By Gavin Miller
Alasdair Gray’s writing, and specifically his nice novel Lanark: A lifestyles in 4 Books (1981), is usually learn as a paradigm of postmodern perform. This learn demanding situations that view by means of featuring an research that's right now extra traditional and extra strongly radical. via analyzing grey in his cultural and highbrow context, and via putting him in the culture of a Scottish historical past of principles that has been principally overlooked in modern severe writing, Gavin Miller re-opens touch among this hugely individualistic artist and people Scottish and ecu philosophers and psychologists who contributed to shaping his literary imaginative and prescient of non-public and nationwide id. Scottish social anthropology and psychiatry (including the paintings of W. Robertson Smith, J.G. Frazer and R.D. Laing) will be obvious as formative affects on Gray’s anti-essentialist imaginative and prescient of Scotland as a mosaic of groups, and of our social want for popularity, acknowledgement and the typical lifestyles. Contents: Acknowledgements advent bankruptcy One: Lanark, The White Goddess, and “spiritual communion” bankruptcy : The divided self – Alasdair grey and R.D. Laing bankruptcy 3: examining and time end: How “post-” is grey? Bibliography, Index
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Additional info for Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (Scroll 4) (Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature)
Etymologically, the word “caryatid” derives from a Greek term for “a priestess of Artemis at Caryae” (Oxford English Dictionary 1989: 932) – these moonworshippers were enslaved alongside the rest of the women of the city by the conquering Greeks. Thaw’s treatment of his sister provides a further satiric counterpoint to the Gravesian doctrine that one’s “inferiors” – such as women – are merely accidental to the pursuit of the goddess. ” He could only think of the grey smear on the picture. Coldness and indifference spread through him like a stain.
Gray 1987: 276) Marjory echoes an ancient image of feminine subordination. A “caryatid” is “a female ﬁgure used as a column to support an entablature”: certain classical buildings have used columns carved into female form, with the weight of the stonework bearing down upon the head of the ﬁgure. This small narrative detail therefore deconstructs the matriarchal pretensions of Graves’s (and Thaw’s) primitivism. Etymologically, the word “caryatid” derives from a Greek term for “a priestess of Artemis at Caryae” (Oxford English Dictionary 1989: 932) – these moonworshippers were enslaved alongside the rest of the women of the city by the conquering Greeks.
Lanark gestures, by an implied contrast, towards an ethic which recognises the social and personal world as a value higher than art. The crucial motif is the replacement of sacred communion with everyday rituals of kinship – in Lanark’s case, of kinship with his son, Sandy. Thaw is eventually so depressed by his isolation from real, living others that he kills himself. The Third Book of Lanark begins as the amnesiac protagonist is reborn as “Lanark”, ﬁnding himself adrift in a eerie city, where inhabitants regularly disappear, and where mysterious diseases such as “dragonhide” and “twittering rigour” are endemic.
Alasdair Gray: The Fiction of Communion (Scroll 4) (Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature) by Gavin Miller