Literature

The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature by Berthold Schoene

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By Berthold Schoene

More than 40 unique essays written via critics from around the globe research the cultural and political position of Scottish writing because the country's referendum on nationwide self-rule in 1997. Essays tackle problems with category, sexuality, gender, nationhood, globalization, cosmopolitan citizenship, and multiculturalism, and the categorical political situations and aesthetic agendas in the back of them. the gathering defines a brand new interval in Scottish literary heritage and heralds in a brand new period within the feedback of Scottish writing.

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Du Bois and the rest knew that the rationale, establishment and perpetuation of freedom necessitate constant struggle. But before struggle, there is the requirement first to rise from Dark Age cerebration and to recognise that one is in a state of unfreedom, and at best this recognition can be a tangential achievement of literature. In my view, whether one is talking about freedom for the peoples of Scotland, South Asia and the Middle East, or for humanity as a whole, in this Aeon of Kali the essence of building – or indeed, of permitting the survival of – both a progressive politics and a meaningful literature must be about enabling the possibility of dissent against the sources of power.

Meanwhile, Scotland greeted its publishing entrepreneurs with a Calvinist wince and threats of claw-backs. Even allowing for the two countries’ disparities in economy, population and geography, as well as their common heritage of minority languages and coexistence with powerful anglophone neighbours, Scotland’s equivalent overall support for literature of only £2 million per annum (approximately 25 per cent of this devoted to publishing) resembled a dugout canoe next to a luxury cruise liner. The disparity also highlighted the severe limitations in state support beyond the SAC for the creative industries in general.

The affectionate nicknaming of the venture as ‘Wottakars’ did little to dispel the gloom felt at how sharply this threw into relief the true vulnerability of a central part of Scottish culture, and indeed how fragile many of its recent achievements had been. The Competition Commission was asked to ascertain if the bid was fair, and it agreed to a request from the new Cross-Parliamentary Group on Scottish Writing and Publishing, established in 2005, to hear evidence from the sector. The case for considering Scotland separately was argued persuasively by the SPA, who in their (unpublished) submission to the Competition Commission of 2005 identified the crucial issue as ‘whether the production of material relevant to Scotland could continue to be published if the merger of these two businesses were to happen, given the concentration of buying power for Deep Range bookshops which would result’.

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