By Kirsten Stirling
Bella Caledonia: girl, state, textual content appears on the frequent culture of utilizing a feminine determine to symbolize the kingdom, concentrating on 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 general facets of the trope akin to the protecting mom country and the lady as fertile land, that are evidently not easy from a feminist viewpoint. yet darker implications, buried within the lengthy background of the determine, upward push to the skin in Scotland, corresponding to woman/nation as sufferer, and woman/nation as deformed or vast. because of Scotland's strange prestige as a country in the better entity of significant Britain, the literary figures into consideration listed here are by no means easily incarnations of a convinced and whole country nurturing her warrior sons. quite, they replicate a extra glossy anxiousness concerning the notion of the country, and include a and divided nationwide identification. Kirsten Stirling strains 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)
Since the titles were evidently supplied by MacDiarmid they may be used to cast some light on readings of the poem, but as they were supplied 30 years after its composition they are perhaps not very much help in deducing MacDiarmid’s original intentions). Although Buthlay makes this connection, it seems to me important to note that at no point is the figure of the “silken leddy” explicitly related to nation or to Scotland. Indeed, the crucial thing about her The Female Figure in the Scottish Renaissance 43 is that she is strange, both in the supernatural nature of her appearances and in the fact that each of her appearances is in a translation, a “foreign” text.
MacDiarmid draws upon two distinct and opposed images of women: the first earthly, domestic and physical; the second mysterious, alien and spiritual. In his later work, MacDiarmid’s images of women, such as the “Gaelic muse” or “Audh the deep-minded”, are more whole, although they are both more spiritual than physical beings. In his early work, however, many of MacDiarmid’s anxieties regarding language and nation are embedded in the representational gap between “real” and ethereal women. From his earliest poems there is a dual quality to MacDiarmid’s use of the female figure as personification of place or nation.
In “Towards a New Scotland”, in the collection Stony Limits (1934), MacDiarmid explicitly constructs his attraction to other literatures as a form of infidelity, addressing Scotland: “Ah, Scotland, you ken best. ” (MacDiarmid 1985: 452). Foreign, “ither” literature is set in the context of sexual jealousy, rejection and covetousness. This attraction to the other complicates and darkens the representation of Scotland, most particularly in the poem “Ode to all Rebels” where MacDiarmid envisages himself singing the praise of Scotland in a mixture of contempt and ecstasy: As who, in love’s embrace, Forgetfully may frame Above the poor slut’s face Another woman’s name.