The fact of power: freedom and determinism in the works of Allan Massie
Philip, Martin Charleson
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This thesis will provide an assessment of the novels of Allan Massie in the light of his critical writing and the demonstration of his engagement with the works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Sir Walter Scott. Massie's political opinions and the much-noted influence of Evelyn Waugh on his work have led to the assumption that Massie's novels sit uncomfortably alongside the main currents of modem Scottish fiction. This thesis contends that the comparisons with Waugh have tended to obscure Massie's metafictional technique and his employment of overt and implicit intertextual discourses with the works of both Sartre and Scott. This facet of Massie' s fictional oeuvre represents an engagement with European philosophy, political thought and literature from within a tradition of Scottish fiction which is part of an expansive post-modem European literary discourse.The engagement with French existentialism places Massie within a strong contemporary field of Scottish fiction alongside such authors as Spark, Kelman and McTivanney. This thesis reveals Massie's conviction that the cultural inheritance of Calvinist theology predisposes Scottish writers towards the discourse between free will and determinism which features so prominently within French existentialism. Massie's novels infer the shared philosophical and cultural ground between Sartre and Scott. Massie's engagement with Walter Scott elucidates his critical engagement with Sartre by revealing the role of the unconscious mind in the extent of freedom which the individual may possess, and exposing the propensity of Sartre's thought to solipsism.The analysis of Massie's novels reveals an interrogation of Sartrean existentialism as it is presented in Sartre's philosophical, critical, dramatic and fictional works. Massie's early novels contain an overt discourse with Sartrean philosophical ideas which is enhanced by an implied intertextual discourse with Sartre's dramatic works. Massie's trilogy of novels which examines the milieu of the Second World War and its consequences further engages with Sartre's own narrative technique on the ground of both Sartrean existential philosophy and the traditional fictive historiography of Scott. Massie questions the possible responses to the end of Empire and global conflict which are present within Sartre's works. This thesis observes that Massie clearly admires Sartre's call for the writer to engage with the world in which he or she is situated but acknowledges his implication that the danger of solipsism within Sartrean existentialism may betray that intent by inadvertently advocating a flight into the abstract. For Massie, the fact of external reality demands an acknowledgement of the limits of action. This undermines the Sartrean aim of radical freedom.