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Scottish Storytrails - A Literary Landscape - cover

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Scottish Storytrails - A Literary Landscape

William Steven

Publisher: Neil Wilson Publishing

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Summary

Scotland’s landscape was, and is, unquestionably distinct, as are the renowned writers it has produced. Tobias Smollett was the first Scottish writer to rhapsodise about the beauties of his native land in The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, when his native country was increasingly referred to as North Britain after the Treaty of Union with England in 1707. Sir Walter Scott took up the pen to make the Highlands and Borders world-famous through Rob Roy and many of his other works. The action of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped famously ranges through the Highlands before returning to Edinburgh and the hero of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, Richard Hannay, roams around Galloway and the Borders as he desperately tries to escape his pursuers. Edinburgh’s Old Town is cleverly evoked in The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by Scott’s friend James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, while in more recent times Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Ian Rankin’s crime novels and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting all portray varying scenes of Edinburgh’s cityscape. Alasdair Gray’s Lanark powerfully evokes Glasgow, second city of the British Empire, industrially deconstructed so much that its artist protagonist feels deracinated. The north-east of Scotland is gloriously evoked in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song, as is the far north in Rowena Farre’s Seal Morning and Neil Gunn’s Highland River, where boy and man have a symbiosis with the landscape that is at times mystical. Sir Compton Mackenzie lightens the tone in picturing the Western Isles in his comic satire Whisky Galore while Iain Banks re-imagines Argyll, Glasgow and points in between in The Crow Road. Great Scottish novelists took their skills and created memorable fictional settings elsewhere, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in London and on Dartmoor in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Kenneth Grahame unforgettably evoked the charms of the River Thames in The Wind in the Willows and Sir James M Barrie created settings for Peter Pan alongside recollections of his native Angus.Scottish Storytrails describes in detail the places where these 17 writers lived and worked, providing a life trail, while the fictional settings of their famous books parallel those places imaginatively, providing a story trail through some of Scotland’s greatest literary landscapes.

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