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

By Kirsten Stirling

Bella Caledonia: girl, state, Text seems to be on the common culture of utilizing a feminine determine to symbolize the state, 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 wide-spread features of the trope corresponding to the protecting mom state and the lady as fertile land, that are evidently complex from a feminist standpoint. yet darker implications, buried within the lengthy heritage of the determine, upward thrust to the skin in Scotland, reminiscent of woman/nation as sufferer, and woman/nation as deformed or massive. because of Scotland's strange prestige as a state in the better entity of significant Britain, the literary figures into consideration listed below are by no means easily incarnations of a convinced and whole state nurturing her warrior sons. quite, they mirror a extra smooth anxiousness in regards to the inspiration 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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Additional info for Bella Caledonia: Woman, Nation, Text. (Scroll: Scottish Cultural Review of Language and Literature)

Sample text

The spéir-bhean, unlike the more ancient versions of Ireland as woman, is young and passive. Yeats’ first use of the figure of Cathleen ni Houlihan, in the poem “Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland” (Yeats 1968: 206–8), is very different from the Poor Old Woman of the play, and closer to the spéir-bhean of the aisling tradition (Johnson and Cairns eds 1991: 3–4; Cullingford 1993: 55–66). The nineteenth century was the period in which the Britannia figure became really popular in the public imagination.

The female nation-figures created by male writers all display flaws of some kind, which can be related at least in part to the dissonance between the traditional use of the body as a metaphor for the state and Scotland’s political position. 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.

In this model the idea of nation itself is more important than individual national identity, and this makes sense in the case of Scotland when we consider that the use of a Scotland-as-woman figure asserts Scotland’s similarity to other nations and her participation in the condition of nationhood itself. Yet there is still a gap between the idea of the nation-as-woman signifying “home” and the idea that she belongs to a larger group external to the nation, and in various Scotland-as-woman representations this is expressed by portraying her as in some way of foreign origin.

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