Fantastic Islands

Timothy C. Baker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As much as the recurrent trope of the found manuscript has been used to foreground questions of authenticity and individual identity, as discussed in the previous chapter, it has also been used to address much broader issues of history and communal memory. To a certain extent, this may seem self-evident; as Jan Assmann notes, while language is considered as present communication, text is always ‘constituted on the basis of prior communication. It always involves the past.’1 Texts, Assmann argues, allow for the development of cultural memory, as opposed to communicative or bonding memory: texts encompass not only the knowledge required for practical living, but also ‘the age-old, out-of-the-way, and discarded’ (27). While Assmann focusses on normative and formative texts (that is, texts that codify social behaviour, such as wisdom literature, and texts that formulate a culture’s self-image, such as myths and sagas), the novels examined in the previous chapters indicate that any text may be culturally formative. Robertson’s Testament of Gideon Mack, for instance, highlights the extent to which formative texts such as Scott’s novels relate to both individual and cultural memory, while Gray’s Poor Things suggests that inauthentic or fictive texts may be just as relevant to the establishment of cultural identity.

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)978-1-349-49861-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

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

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Timothy C. Baker.


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