By Kirsten Stirling
Bella Caledonia: lady, state, textual content appears on the common culture of utilizing a feminine determine to symbolize the state, 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 primary elements of the trope similar to the protecting mom kingdom and the girl as fertile land, that are evidently frustrating from a feminist viewpoint. yet darker implications, buried within the lengthy background of the determine, upward push to the outside in Scotland, resembling woman/nation as sufferer, and woman/nation as deformed or substantial. due to Scotland's strange prestige as a kingdom in the higher entity of serious Britain, the literary figures into account listed here are by no means easily incarnations of a convinced and whole country nurturing her warrior sons. quite, they replicate a extra sleek anxiousness concerning the idea of the kingdom, and include a bothered and divided nationwide id. Kirsten Stirling lines the advance of the twentieth-century Scotland-as-woman determine via readings of poetry and fiction through 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)
Mitchison and Muir, however, both try to identify themselves as Scottish writers with the female figurehead of nation, and discover that this identification is not possible within the logic of the allegory. MacDiarmid’s other women Hugh MacDiarmid’s use of a female figure to represent Scotland is particular in that, in the 1920s at least, she is split straight down the middle. MacDiarmid draws upon two distinct and opposed images of women: the first earthly, domestic and physical; the second mysterious, alien and spiritual.
The figure of Cathleen ni Houlihan is perhaps the finest example of a literary use of the nation-as-woman figure functioning as the inspiring genius of oppositional nationalism, and MacDiarmid explicitly acknowledges his appropriation of Yeats’ figure in his poem “The Gaelic Muse” (1985: 660). In Yeats’ play the eponymous figure appears as a poor old woman who has lost her “four beautiful green fields”, and who travels the country in search of young men who are willing to fight and die for her.
They are multiple, and with their sources in multiple cultures and multiple texts they transgress borders and resist categorisation. Spirits of Place: Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Neil Gunn MacDiarmid never creates – and perhaps doesn’t want to create – a whole and unified female figure representing Scotland. His womanas-Scotland figures are always complicated by competing construc- The Female Figure in the Scottish Renaissance 49 tions of femininity – or competing constructions of Scottishness – and yet this play of opposites is characteristic of his work generally.
Bella Caledonia: Woman, Nation, Text. (SCROLL: Scottish Cultural Review of Language & Literature) by Kirsten Stirling