The Allusive Languages of Myth, Fairy Tale and Monstrosity in The Falconer
This essay examines how Alice Thompson‘s novel, The Falconer (2008), creates a richly allusive Gothic weave by analysing its symbolic languages of myth, nature, and monstrosity, and how it reimagines and reinterprets other modes and texts associated with the Gothic, namely Du Maurier‘s Rebecca and the Bluebeard fairy tale, as well as Scottish ballad tradition and popular fairy belief. Mirroring the trope of metamorphosis which thematically and stylistically informs the novel, the essay also explores how these allusively poetic uses of Gothic become politicised in the portrayal of German Nazism and of traumatic historical memory.
This essay examines the proliferation of visual representations of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), considering the question of what links contemporary (Scottish?) Gothic to its problematic origins. After a survey of cinematic and graphic adaptations, the essay focuses on Steven Moffatt‘s Jekyll (BBC, 2007), which combines the post-Darwinian anxieties surrounding Stevensons tale of human regression with a much more contemporary interrogation of the ‘human’ against the backdrop of complex globalised scientific conspiracies. Significantly, the production draws on the Scottish origin of the text, re-proposing the question of (national) identity and authenticity against the threat of globalisation.
This article examines Denise Mina‘s treatment of Scottish identity and the gothic tradition in her run on Hellblazer, an American horror comic about an English occultist, John Constantine. Mina takes Constantine to Glasgow to confront the deadly “empathy plague” which forces victims to emphasise with others. Mina argues that the Scots revel in the misery of others, making them easy victims for this malady. However, this failing becomes a means for victory, as everyone is united in an outpouring of shameful joy at the story‘s conclusion. Mina‘s Scotland is a home away from home for Constantine – haunted, embittered and lost – and her image of Scotland mirrors representations seen in other Scottish Gothic texts.
Cruelty, Darkness and the Body in Janice Galloway, Alison Kennedy and Louise Welsh
This essay seeks to define a Gothic tendency in the ‘viscerality’ of some recent and prominent Scottish women writers: Janice Galloway, Alison Kennedy and Louise Welsh. The argument addresses an alienating tension in this ‘viscerality’ between a fabular form and the impression of a new realism of social surfaces. This is a Gothic of cruelty and violent representation of the body, which opens a Scottish urban culture, portrayed as a synecdoche for divided consciousness, to fables of sexual and political alienation.
James Robertson‘s well-deserved reputation as a historical novelist has obscured the role that the Gothic plays in his work. Manifesting itself in distinctively Scottish fashion, Robertson‘s Gothicism is tied to the ‘broader national culture’ in general and to post-devolutionary Scotland in particular. Not only does his transformation of the Gothic into the historical novels uncanny other resist the modern novels tendency towards increasing privatisation. It also results in work that diverges from much post-devolutionary Scottish fiction in that his stories and novels are, by virtue of the density of their Scottishness, deeply connected to the local and to folk culture.
This article approaches a range of contemporary Scottish fiction: Iain Banks‘s Complicity and A Song of Stone, Irvine Welsh‘s Filth, Michel Faber‘s Under the Skin, James Robertson‘s Joseph Knight, Alan Guthrie‘s Savage Night and selected stories from Alan Bissett‘s Scottish Gothic anthology, Damage Land. The theme the article traces is pity, whether seen in a national or historical context, or as part of a wider panoply of what one might think of as ‘Gothic emotions’. The main contention is that it is possible that we reduce the scope of Gothic when we think of it as merely conducing to terror; whether we think of the earliest Gothic novels or of contemporary writing, there are often other feelings being stirred, a wider range of sensibilities being explored.
The journey North is a recurrent motif throughout the Gothic literary tradition, often representing a journey back in time to a more primitive location where conventional rules do not apply. Within the context of contemporary Scottish Gothic this journey continues to involve a temporal regression. The North of Scotland, and specifically the Highlands, is still a Gothic location, allowing for an interrogation of the homogenising notion of ‘national identity’. In this article the journey North is explored in the work of contemporary writers and film directors including Iain Banks, Alan Warner, David Mackenzie, and Neil Marshall.