The modern scottish novel

Cairns Craig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Three works by European and North American critics - George Lukács’ The Historical Novel, André Gide’s introduction to James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner, and Northrop Frye’s Secular Scripture - provided ways of reading the past of the Scottish novel which also explain its major modern developments. The structure of the historical novel as presented by Lukács both underpins the centrality of working-class experience in the modern Scottish novel and reveals the failure of its historical aspirations; Gide’s version of Hogg reveals an alternative counter-historical dimension, one which was to dominate much nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century novel-writing in Scotland; and Frye’s emphasis on the archetypal underlines the extent to which the Scottish novel, from Scott to Muriel Spark, seeks to deconstruct the realistic emphasis of the major tradition of the novel in order to reveal the “deep structures” that underlie all narration. These three perspectives help explain major features of the modern Scottish novel - its experiments with vernacular speech, its counterpointing of different generic styles within a single text, and its use of fantasy to disrupt novelistic realism and its implicit acceptance of the nature of modern society.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to British Literature
EditorsRobert De Maria Jr., Heesok Chang, Samantha Zacher
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781118827338
ISBN (Print)9780470656044
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Doubtful
  • Fantasy
  • Genre fiction
  • Historical (counter historical)
  • Narrators (double
  • Omniscient)
  • Realist (anti-realist)
  • Thermodynamics (energy physics)
  • Vernacular
  • Working class


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