Bella Caledonia: Woman, Nation, Text. (SCROLL: Scottish by Kirsten Stirling

By Kirsten Stirling

Bella Caledonia: lady, country, textual content appears on the frequent culture of utilizing a feminine determine to symbolize the country, targeting twentieth-century Scottish literature. The woman-as-nation determine emerged in Scotland within the 20th century, yet as a literary determine instead of an institutional icon like Britannia or France's Marianne. Scottish writers utilize universal points of the trope akin to the protecting mom country and the lady as fertile land, that are evidently troublesome from a feminist standpoint. yet darker implications, buried within the lengthy background of the determine, upward thrust to the skin in Scotland, akin to woman/nation as sufferer, and woman/nation as deformed or immense. because of Scotland's strange prestige as a country in the greater entity of significant Britain, the literary figures into account listed below are by no means easily incarnations of a convinced and whole country nurturing her warrior sons. relatively, they replicate a extra sleek nervousness in regards to the suggestion of the state, and include a afflicted and divided nationwide id. Kirsten Stirling lines the improvement of the twentieth-century Scotland-as-woman determine via readings of poetry and fiction by means of female and male writers together with Hugh MacDiarmid, Naomi Mitchison, Neil Gunn, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Willa Muir, Alasdair grey, A.L. Kennedy, Ellen Galford and Janice Galloway.

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Extra info for Bella Caledonia: Woman, Nation, Text. (SCROLL: Scottish Cultural Review of Language & Literature)

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56– 58) suggests the political potential of both language and literature as the expression of a sense of nationhood. This overlap between woman-as-nation and muse is not a staple attribute of the woman-as-nation figure, and it is interesting that they combine in the Scottish context. Hugh MacDiarmid, too, as we shall see, makes great use of this overlap, particularly with his figure of the “Gaelic Muse”. The long-established tradition of the female figure acting as muse, combined with the association of the female with the 34 Chapter One representation of abstract virtues, make it easy for the Scotland-aswoman figure to slip in to her apparently pre-ordained role, despite the shortage of models for the female personification of Scotland.

While the exclusion of women from the canon of mainstream literary movements is by no means exclusive to Scotland, the nationalist impulse of the Scottish Literary Renaissance movement may well have contributed to the highly virile profile of its dramatis personae. Marilyn Reizbaum suggests that the emphasis on virility in nationalist discourse in Scotland and also in Ireland during the same period may be “a response to the historical figuration of cultural ‘inferiority’ in stereotypes of the feminine” (Reizbaum 1992: 172).

There is an allegorical aspect to her representation but it does not fully correspond to the necessarily abstract and mythological woman-asnation figures already considered. Chris resembles neither Britannia nor Cathleen ni Houlihan. On the contrary, reading Robert Colquhoun’s “Chris Caledonia” statement in context suggests that she represents the national character rather than the nation itself. When Robert asks Chris if it feels “tremendous and terrible” to be pregnant, she answers only that “it made you feel sick, now and then” (139).

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