Thread of Scottishness: mapping the allegorical tapestry of Scottish literature
Liddle, Helena Francisca Gaspar
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Scottish authors throughout the ages have linked their art to their nationality. When the contemporary writer A. L. Kennedy observes, 'I believe that fiction with a thread of Scottishness in its truth has helped me to know how to be myself as a Scot,' she pinpoints the value of literature for both her predecessors and peers. However, the idea of Scottish literature as an autonomous and coherent national literature is controversial. Questions concerning self-sufficiency, unity, and value continue to haunt the idea of a Scottish literary tradition. Many studies have attempted to address the stereotype of Scottish literature's fragmentation and its place as a sub-category within English literature; however, few critical works have considered specific literary forms as constituting a basis for the Scottish literary consciousness. 'A Thread of Scottishness' argues that Scottish literature uniquely sustains an allegorical framework traceable from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the present. Chapter one discusses allegory's history, definition and relationship with the reader. Chapters two, three, and four focus upon the specific theoretical strands of the Scottish allegorical form: nature, nationalism, and morality, respectively. Each of these three chapters begins with a discussion of works from the medieval period and follows the progression of the Scots' use of allegory through time. More modern works, including S. Ferrier's Marriage, R. L. Stevenson's The Master of Ballantrae, N. Shepherd's The Weatherhouse, are shown to reflect the narrative traditions of medieval and Renaissance texts, such as R. Henryson's Morall Fabillis and The Testament of Cresseid, King James I's The Kingis Quair, and Sir D. Lindsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis. Thus, through a consideration of the use of allegory within specific Scottish texts, I posit continuity for Scottish literature as a whole.