Contemporary Scottish Gothic: Mourning, Authenticity, and Tradition

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Robert Wise’s 1945 film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘The
Body Snatcher’ features an ahistoric admixture of Scottish signifiers.
The opening credits appear over a fixed shot of a reconstructed Edinburgh
Castle while the orchestra plays a somewhat ominous version of ‘Loch
Lomond’. The camera passes over a singing beggar and drovers in the
city’s centre before alighting on the young medical student Donald
Fettes (whom the viewer will soon learn hails from J.M. Barrie’s Thrums)
feeding part of his lunch to Greyfriars Bobby. Before long, Bobby will be
cruelly killed by Boris Karloff as cabman and resurrectionist John Gray,
and the body snatching, linked to Burke and Hare, will begin in earnest.
While the film is explicitly set in 1831, its references come from closer
to Stevenson’s own time: Bobby, according to the famous statue outside
Greyfriars Kirk, died in 1872, while the first of Barrie’s Thrums stories
was published in 1889. These details seem selected not for historical
accuracy, but because they straightforwardly represent ‘Scottishness’ to
an international audience.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages226
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-45720-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-49861-1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Publication series

NamePalgrave Gothic


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