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Ideas clash on the mountain tops: Politics of the Mountain and National Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Scotland

Abstract : This paper proposes to explore the multiple deflections of the mountain motif in a selection of poems, novels and performances by Scottish artists from the first literary renaissance to the present. From Walter Scott's romantic Highland scenery and Ossian's blue crests, the mountain has always been a powerful symbol in Scottish literature. But as early as in the 1930s, it became crucial to renew Scotland's self-image and break from the outdated regional paradigms inherited from the past. For the poets of the first literary renaissance such as Hugh MacDiarmid, lain Crichton Smith, Sorley MacLean and Norman MacCaig, a piece of "real Scotland" may have survived on the mountain tops. It is the case in the Cuillins of Skye where Scotland's wild cry or wild poem can sometimes be heard, provided the poet deserve it. Either a vertical frontier or an ontological model, the mountain came to stand as the key to eternal Scotland, the key also to a long-awaited spiritual awakening, as in Nan Shepherd's The Living Mountain (1977) or Angus Farquhar's recent environmental artwork. While looking at the ways in which the mountain stands as the elevated starting point of a new national imagination, the paper will eventually be concerned with the works of several contemporary poet-climbers and performers. Can the mountain, in devolutionary Scotland, remain the same cultural synecdoche it served as throughout the twentieth century?
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https://hal.univ-brest.fr/hal-01114819
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 9:34:31 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 3:16:42 PM

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Camille Manfredi. Ideas clash on the mountain tops: Politics of the Mountain and National Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Scotland. Françoise Besson. Mountains Figured and Disfigured in the English-Speaking World, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.545-555, 2010, 9781443818582. ⟨hal-01114819⟩

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