A Scott-Haunted World

Timothy C. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In a recent survey of contemporary criticism on Scottish Gothic, Monica Germanà argues that the Gothic tradition is characterised in part by an emphasis on ‘the viability of stable origins’ that leads to an exploration of ‘the fear of not knowing what one is’.1 Gothic, at its most basic level, explores questions not only of history and tradition, but also of how the apparent instability of historical origins casts doubt on the stability of the self. Within Scottish Gothic, these issues are often framed in terms of canonicity and influence; critics have gone so far as to term literary tradition the ‘Scottish curse’, whereby the ‘Scottishness’ of a given work can only be determined by its reference to an already accepted national canon.2 The relationship between tradition, selfhood, and authorship is rarely more apparent than in the many explicit reworkings of novels by Walter Scott, James Hogg, and Robert Louis Stevenson produced over the past decades. Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, for instance, has been rewritten or adapted at least half a dozen times, by authors including Muriel Spark, Emma Tennant, Robin Jenkins, and most recently James Robertson. This conscious appropriation and revision of a literary tradition invites a consideration of Gothic as a form that both upholds and distorts literary tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Scottish Gothic
Subtitle of host publicationMourning, Authenticity, and Tradition
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-45720-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-45719-6, 978-1-349-49861-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic
ISSN (Print)2634-6214
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6222

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Timothy C. Baker.


  • Binary Logic
  • Contemporary Criticism
  • Literary Tradition
  • Narrative Voice
  • Oral Testimony


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