15 April 2008

An Introduction to Scottish Literature

In the fall we were speaking with a Glaswegian gentleman from our church about how I was reading various English literature books (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist) and enjoying them immensely. He asked if I had read or heard of Lewis Grassic Gibbon who wrote A Scots Quair, a trilogy about a young woman living in Scotland in the Grampian area (which is the area just west of us), and Aberdeen. I, being uncultured in Scottish literature had not heard of the author or his works, so said gentleman loaned me Sunset Song, the first in the trilogy. I am ashamed to say it has taken me so long to finally sit down with it, but the little bit I have read I am enjoying. I am still in the lengthy prelude and smiling at various things written because I have personally experienced them--speaking of Donnottar Castle "and there the din of the gulls is a yammer night and day..." He also mentions numerous places of which I either know where they are located or have heard of them and need to place them on a map. I think identifying with the story always makes reading even more fascinating.

I look forward to enlarging my knowledge of Scottish literature as I work through this trilogy. I know my vocabulary, my Scottish vocabulary that is, will also be expanding. I found the author's note at the beginning inviting and playful:

"If the great Dutch language disappeared from literary usage and a Dutchman wrote in German a story of the Lekside peasants, one may hazard he would ask and receive a certain latitude and forbearance in his usage of German. He might import into his pages some score or so untranslatable words and idioms -- untranslatable except in their context and setting; he might mould in some fashion his German to the rhythms and cadence of the kindred speech that his peasants speak. Beyond that, in fairness to his hosts, he hardly could go -- to seek effect by a spray of apostrophes would be both impertinence and mistranslation. The courtesy that they hypothetical Dutchman might receive from German a Scot may invoke from the great English tongue" (L.G.G.)

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