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Annual Volume 33 (2003)


Literature and Society
in Scotland 1918–1939

source documents for the
Scottish Renaissance

Edited by Margery Palmer McCulloch

Published in: Paperback.
By: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, Glasgow, May 2004.
Price: £12.50.
ISBN 978-0-948877-59-9

Hardback edition: £25.00
ISBN 978-0-948877-58-2

“McCulloch’s book is indispensable to anyone interested in the twentieth-century Scottish Renaissance, a period of Scottish literature rich in first-class writers and poets: MacDiarmid, Edwin Muir, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Neil Gunn, William Soutar, Catherine Carswell and many others. The book unfolds the story of Scotland’s cultural development as a many-layered narrative. Serious essays are presented in well-judged counterpoint to private letters, malicious flytings and delicious gossip.”
The Times Literary Supplement

“McCulloch gives a vivid sense of how confusing and often exasperating the 20th-century ‘Scottish Renaissance’ acually felt as an experience to live through; and how little agreement there was on what (if anything) was really going on.”
The Scotsman

“The eclectic collection in this book is fascinating.”
The Herald


What made the twentieth-century interwar literary renaissance unique among Scottish cultural movements was the belief of those involved that any regeneration of the nation’s artistic culture could not be separated from revival in its social, economic and political life. An additional priority was engagement with Europe and with the artistic and intellectual ideas of the modern period. Nationalism, internationalism and modernity were therefore seen as complementary and interactive parts of an ambitious national renewal project.

Modernism and Nationalism: Literature and Society in Scotland 1918-1939 is an edited collection of primary sources from this challenging period. Through excerpts from periodical articles, book chapters, letters and other documents, it brings us the voices of writers such as MacDiarmid, Gunn, Linklater, Compton Mackenzie, Naomi Mitchison, the Muirs, Carswells and many others, reviewing and arguing over the literary, social, economic and political issues of their time, both at home and abroad, while in the process offering new insights into the ideas behind their own creative writing. The book makes an important contribution to our understanding of interwar Scotland.




1 Preliminary: What is Scottish Literature?
1.1 Robert Louis Stevenson, from letter to S.R. Crockett (1888)
1.2 W. MacNeile Dixon, from Introduction to The Edinburgh Book of Scottish Verse (1910)
1.3 G.R. Blake, from Scotland of the Scots (1918)
1.4 G. Gregory Smith, from Scottish Literature: Character and Influence (1919)
1.5 T.S. Eliot, ‘Was There a Scottish Literature?’ (Athenaeum August 1919)

2 Language, Identity and the Vernacular Debate
2.1 Extract from Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the London Robert Burns Club (June 1920)
2.2 Representative Letters of Support for Vernacular Circle Proposal
2.3 W.A. Craigie, from ‘The Present State of the Scottish Tongue’ (January 1921)
2.4 J.M. Bulloch, from ‘The Delight of the Doric in the Diminutive (December 1921)
2.5 C.M. Grieve, from letters to Aberdeen Free Press (December 1921 and January 1922)
2.6 James Pittendrigh MacGillivray, from Preface to Bog Myrtle and Peat Reek (1921)
2.7 C.M. Grieve, from Dunfermline Press (August and September 1922)
2.8 C.M. Grieve, from Scottish Chapbook (October 1922)
2.9 Edwin Muir, from ‘A Note on the Scottish Ballads’ (Freeman January 1923)
2.10 C.M. Grieve, from ‘Causerie: A Theory of Scots Letters’ (Scottish Chapbook February and March 1923)
2.11 ‘The Scottish Vernacular in Music’ (Glasgow Herald October 1923)
2.12 John Buchan, from Introduction to The Northern Muse (1925)
2.13 Lorna Moon, from letters to David Laurance Chambers (August 1928)
2.14 Gordon Leslie Rayne, from ‘This Scottish Tongue: The Renascence and the Vernacular (Scots Magazine May 1933)
2.15 Dane M’Neil [Neil M. Gunn], from ‘The Scottish Renascence’ (Scots Magazine June 1933)
2.16 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, from ‘Literary Lights’ (1934)
2.17 Edwin Muir, from ‘Literature in Scotland’ (Spectator May 1934)
2.18 Neil M. Gunn, ‘Preserving the Scottish Tongue: A Legacy and How to use It’ (Scots Magazine November 1935)
2.19 Edwin Muir, from Scott and Scotland (1936)
2.20 William Soutar, from ‘Debatable Land’ (Outlook October1936)
2.21 Neil M. Gunn, from review of Scott and Scotland (Scots Magazine October 1936)
2.22 Catherine Carswell, ‘The Scottish Writer’ (Spectator December 1936)
2.23 David Daiches, from ‘Dialect and the Lyric Poet’ (Outlook May 1936)
2.24 William Soutar, ‘Faith in the Vernacular’ (Voice of Scotland June–August 1938)

3 A Scottish Renaissance?: Responses and Reviews
3.1 C.M. Grieve, from Scottish Chapbook (August 1922)
3.2 Denis Saurat, from ‘Le Groupe de “la Renaissance Écossaise”’ (Revue Anglo-Americaine April 1924)
3.3 George Kitchin, M.A., D.Litt., from ‘The “Scottish Renaissance” Group: What It Represents’ (Scotsman November 1924)
3.4 W.P. [William Power], from ‘Follow the Gleam’ (Glasgow Herald November 1924)
3.5 Unsigned review of The Northern Muse: An Anthology of Scots Vernacular Poetry, arranged by John Buchan (Burns Chronicle 1925)
3.6 C.M. Grieve, from Scottish Educational Journal (1925–26)
3.7 Theta [Thomas Henderson], from ‘The Scots Renaissance and Mr C.M. Grieve’ (Scottish Educational Journal October 1925)
3.8 Edwin Muir, from ‘The Scottish Renaissance’ (Saturday Review of Literature October 1925)
3.9 From unsigned review article ‘A Scottish Renaissance’ (Times Literary Supplement January 1926)
3.10 Lewis Spence, from ‘The Scottish Literary Renaissance’ (Nineteenth Century July 1926)
3.11 Edwin Muir, from ‘Verse’ (Nation & Athenaeum January 1927)
3.12 Unsigned review, ‘Penny Wheep’ (Times Literary Supplement March 1927)
3.13 Catherine Carswell, Morning Tide, Mr Neil Gunn’s Novel’ (Scottish Country Life February 1931)
3.14 Neil M. Gunn, from letter to Catherine Carswell (February 1931)
3.15 Neil M. Gunn, from letter to F. Marian McNeill (March 1931)
3.16 Edwin Muir, from review of To Circumjack Cencrastus (Criterion April 1931)
3.17 Rebecca West, review of The Three Brothers by Edwin Muir (Modern Scot Spring 1931)
3.18 ‘Mrs Muir’s First Novel’, unsigned review of Imagined Corners (Modern Scot Summer 1931)
3.19 Edwin Muir, ‘A New Scottish Novelist’, review of Fionn MacColla’s The Albannach (Modern Scot Summer 1932)
3.20 From ‘Two Scottish Novels’, unsigned review of Poor Tom and Sunset Song (Modern Scot Autumn 1932)
3.21 Some further responses to Sunset Song
3.22 Letters from Lewis Grassic Gibbon to James Barke (January and July 1933)
3.23 Edwin Muir, from ‘New Novels’ (Listener August 1933)
3.24 From ‘Four Story-Tellers’, unsigned book review (Modern Scot Summer 1933)
3.25 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, from ‘Scots Novels of the Half-Year’ (Free Man June 1933)
3.26 C.M. Grieve, from ‘Seeds in the Wind’ (Free Man July 1933)
3.27 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, from ‘New Novels: Mr Barker [sic] and Others’ (Free Man February 1934)
3.28 Edwin Muir, from ‘Literature in Scotland’ (Spectator May 1934)
3.29 Eric Linklater, ‘The Novel in Scotland’ (The Fortnightly Library 1935)
3.30 Robert Bain, from ‘Scottish Poetry of To-day’ (Burns Chronicle 1939)

4 Transforming Traditions
Bards of a Sham Nation?
4.1 Edwin Muir, from ‘Robert Burns’ (Freeman May 1923)
4.2 C.M. Grieve, from Contemporary Scottish Studies (1926)
4.3 C.M. Grieve, ‘Hiatus’ (G.O.C. Magazine January 1929)
4.4 John Buchan, from letter to Donald Carswell (July 1929)
4.5 Donald Carswell, from Sir Walter: A Four-Part Study in Biography (1930)
4.6 C.M. Grieve, from ‘Scotsmen make a God of Robert Burns’ (Radio Times January 1930)
4.7 Catherine Carswell, ‘The “Giant Ploughman” Can Withstand His Critics’ (Radio Times February 1930)
4.8 Catherine Carswell, from The Life of Robert Burns (1930)
4.9 ‘Burns Life Furore’ (Daily Record September 1930)
4.10 Catherine Carswell, from letter to S.S. Koteliansky (September 1930)
4.11 F. Marian McNeill, ‘The New Burns’ (Scots Independent December 1930)
4.12 Edwin Muir, from ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’ (Modern Scot Autumn 1931)
4.13 C.M. Grieve, ‘The Scott Centenary’ (Free Man October 1932)
4.14 Edwin Muir, from Scottish Journey (1935)
4.15 Edwin Muir, from Scott and Scotland (1936)
4.16 Neil M. Gunn, from review of Scott and Scotland (Scots Magazine October 1936)
New Directions
4.17 Rhea Denholm, from ‘The National Theatre Movement’ (Scots Magazine July 1924)
4.18 From inaugural editoral (Modern Scot Spring 1930)
4.19 ‘The Porpoise Press’ (Modern Scot Spring 1930)
4.20 ‘Scotland and the Cinema’ (Modern Scot Spring 1930)
4.21 Murray McClymont, ‘A Scottish Theatre: The Need for a New Form’ (Modern Scot Winter 1930)
4.22 William Power, ‘Community Drama and the Renaissance: A New Theatre Public’ (Scottish Stage March 1932)
4.23 ‘James Bridie on the Theatre: Address to Glasgow Students’ (Glasgow Herald November 1933)
4.24 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, ‘A Novelist Looks at the Cinema’ (Cinema Quarterly Winter 1934/35)
4.25 Neil M. Gunn, from ‘The Theatre Society of Scotland’ (Scots Magazine December 1938)

5 Europe and the Impact of the Modern
5.1 Sigmund Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams (1900)
5.2 W.B. Yeats, from ‘The Symbolism of Poetry’ (1900)
5.3 Henri Bergson, from Creative Evolution (1907)
5.4 Sir James Frazer, from The Golden Bough (1890–1915; 1922)
5.5 C.J. Jung, from ‘On the Psychology of the Unconscious’ (1917) and ‘Definitions’ (1921)
5.6 Virginia Woolf, from ‘More Dostoevsky’ (1917)
5.7 Ezra Pound, from ‘A Retrospect’ (1918)
5.8 Edward Moore [Edwin Muir], from We Moderns (1918)
5.9 T.S. Eliot, from ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919)
5.10 T.S. Eliot, from ‘The Metaphysical Poets’ (1921)
5.11 C.M. Grieve, from ‘Causerie’ [on Spengler] (Scottish Chapbook March 1923)
5.12 From ‘Edwin Muir and F.G. Scott: A Conversation’ (Freeman December 1923)
5.13 Edwin Muir, from ‘Friedrich Hšlderlin’ (Scottish Nation September 1923)
5.14 C.M. Grieve, from ‘William and Agnes McCance’ (Scottish Educational Journal November 1925)
5.15 C.M. Grieve, from ‘Paul Valéry’ (New Age 1927)
5.16 Edwin Muir, from letter to Sydney Schiff (July 1929)
5.17 From ‘Book Reviews’ [Proust and Joyce] (Modern Scot Summer 1930)
5.18 William McCance, from ‘Idea in Art’ (Modern Scot Summer 1930)
5.19 ‘Continental Literature’ (Modern Scot Autumn 1932)
5.20 Edwin Muir, from letter to Hermann Broch (June 1932)
5.21 From unsigned review of The Savage Pilgrimage: A Narrative of D.H. Lawrence by Catherine Carswell (Modern Scot Summer 1932)
5.22 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, from ‘Literary Lights’ (1934)
5.23 Hugh MacDiarmid, from ‘Rainer Maria Rilke’ (New Britain February 1934)

6 Women on Women: Gendering the Renaissance
6.1 Willa Muir, from ‘A Woman in Prague’ [1922]
6.2 Catherine Carswell, from ‘Proust’s Women’ (1923)
6.3 Willa Muir, from ‘Women: An Inquiry’ (1925)
6.4 Willa Muir, from letter to F. Marian McNeill (January [1926])
6.5 Catherine Carswell, from correspondence with F. Marian McNeill (April 1928)
6.6 Lorna Moon, from letter to David Laurance Chambers (January 1929)
6.7 Elizabeth Kyle, ‘Modern Women Authors’ (Scots Observer June 1931)
6.8 Willa Muir, from letter to F. Marian McNeill (July 1931)
6.9 Naomi Mitchison, from ‘Pages from a Russian Diary’ (Modern Scot Autumn 1932)
6.10 Willa Muir, from letter to Marion Lochhead (March 1933)
6.11 Nannie K. Wells, from ‘Woman and the New World’ (Free Man July 1933)
6.12 Willa Muir, ‘Women in Scotland’ (Left Review November 1936)
6.13 Naomi Mitchison, from Among You Taking Notes (3 September 1939)


7 The Condition of Scotland
7.1 ‘The Church and the Slums’ (Scots Observer October 1926)
7.2 George Malcolm Thomson, from Caledonia or The Future of the Scots [1927]
7.3 From unsigned review of Rip Van Scotland by William Bell (Modern Scot Spring 1930)
7.4 Andrew Dewar Gibb, from Scotland in Eclipse (1930)
7.5 Edwin Muir, from letter to James Whyte (September 1931)
7.6 From first editorial of The Free Man: A Journal of Independent Thought (February 1932)
7.7 J. Gibson, from ‘A Scheme for Assisting Scottish Unemployed: the Provision of Allotments’ (Free Man February 1932)
7.8 J. Alexander, ‘The Call of Scotland’ (Free Man March 1932)
7.9 From interview: ‘C.M. Grieve speaks Out’ (Free Man April 1932)
7.10 From ‘At the Mercat Cross’: readers’ responses to ‘C.M.Grieve Speaks Out’ (Free Man May 1932)
7.11 From Scotland in Quest of her Youth: A Scrutiny (1932)
7.12 Edwin Muir, ‘The Functionlessness of Scotland’ (Free Man February 1933)
7.13 Edwin Muir, from Scottish Journey (1935)
7.14 Dane McNeil, from ‘Doom in the Moray Firth’ (Scots Magazine October 1935)
7.15 Edwin Muir, review of Scotland That Distressed Area by George Malcolm Thomson (Criterion January 1936)
7.16 Neil M. Gunn, from ‘The Family Boat: Its Future in Scottish Fishing’ (Scots Magazine June 1937)
7.17 George Blake, Note to the Second Edition of The Heart of Scotland (1938)

8 Celtic Connections and the Situation of the Highlands
8.1 C.M. Grieve, from ‘A Scotsman Looks at His World’ (Dunfermline Press April 1923)
8.2 Daniel Corkery, from The Hidden Ireland (1924)
8.3 William Sharp, from Introduction to Lyra Celtica (1896; 1924)
8.4 Donald A. Mackenzie, from ‘A Celt’s Protest’ (Scottish Educational Journal January 1926)
8.5 From inaugural editorial, Pictish Review (November 1927)
8.6 Dane McNeil, ‘The Gael Will Come Again’ (Scots Magazine February 1931)
8.7 C.M. Grieve, from ‘English Ascendancy in British Literature’ (Criterion July 1931)
8.8 C.M. Grieve, from ‘The Caledonian Antisyzygy and the Gaelic Idea’ (Modern Scot Summer 1931)
8.9 Neil M. Gunn, from ‘Highland Games’ (Scots Magazine September 1931)
8.10 From unsigned review of Hon. R. Erskine of Marr’s Changing Scotland (Modern Scot Winter 1931)
8.11 ‘The Irish Situation’ (Free Man April 1932)
8.12 ‘A Song-Drama of the Gael’ (Free Man May 1932)
8.13 Fionn MacColla, ‘Scots Put to Shame’ (Free Man January 1933)
8.14 Fionn MacColla, ‘Welshing the Scottish Race’ (Free Man March 1933)
8.15 The Hon. R. Erskine of Marr, from ‘The National Tongue and the Ascendancy (Free Man March 1933)
8.16 Earra-Ghaidheal, from ‘The Truth About An Comunn Gaidhealach’
8.17 Iain Ruadh, ‘A Gaelic Revival in Reality’ (Free Man October and November 1933)
8.18 William Power, from Literature & Oatmeal (1935)
8.19 Edwin Muir, from Scottish Journey (1935)
8.20 ‘Will Highlands Become Like This – or This?: Warning to Scots to Save Themselves’ (Bulletin October 1936)
8.21 Neil M. Gunn, from ‘“Gentlemen – The Tourist!”: The New Highland Toast’ (Scots Magazine March 1937)
8.22 Neil M. Gunn, from ‘The Ferry of the Dead’ (Scots Magazine October 1937)
8.23 Hugh MacDiarmid, from The Islands of Scotland (1939) Mb>
9 Competing Ideologies
9.1 C.M. Grieve, from ‘Programme for a Scottish Fascism’ (Scottish Nation June 1923)
9.2 Edwin Muir, from letter to Mr and Mrs Thorburn (December 1923)
9.3 Scots Observer: inaugural editorial and statement of purpose (October 1926)
9.4 C.M. Grieve, from Albyn or Scotland and the Future (1927)
9.5 Non-political ‘Manifestos’ (1927 and 1936)
9.6 Lewis Spence, from ‘The National Party of Scotland’ (Edinburgh Review July 1928)
9.7 John Barbour, from ‘Scotland – The New Dominion’ (Edinburgh Review April 1929)
9.8 Neil M. Gunn, from ‘Nationalism and Internationalism’ (Scots Magazine June 1931)
9.9 From unsigned review ‘Wyndham Lewis on German Nationalism’ (Modern Scot Summer 1931)
9.10 D.S. Mirsky, from Lenin (1931)
9.11 From editorial article on Douglasite economics: ‘Shall Scotland Lead the World to Economic Emancipation?’ (Free Man March 1932)
9.12 Naomi Mitchison, from ‘A Socialist Plan for Scotland’ (Modern Scot Spring 1932)
9.13 Willa Muir, from letter to Helen Cruickshank (May [1932])
9.14 W. Aitken, ‘The Puzzle of Mr Grieve’ (Free Man August 1932)
9.15 From ‘Whither Scotland?: The Free Man Symposium’ (Free Man October 1932)
9.16 From ‘Editorial Notes: The Basis of Modern Nationalism’ (Modern Scot Winter 1932)
9.17 ‘Encountering the Nazis: Some Personal Experiences’ (Free Man July 1933)
9.18 N.K.W. [Nannie K. Wells], from ‘The 20th Century Man’s Ideals: Fascism and the Alternative’ (Free Man August 1933)
9.19 Compton Mackenzie, from ‘Quo Vadis?’ (Free Man September 1933)
9.20 James Leslie Mitchell, letter to James Barke (January 1934)
9.21 Edwin Muir, from ‘Bolshevism and Calvinism’ (European Quarterly May 1934)
9.22 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, from Scottish Scene (1934)
9.23 ‘Controversy: Writers’ International (British Section)’ (Left Review February 1935)
9.24 Edwin Muir, from Scottish Journey (1935)
9.25 Catherine Carswell, ‘Mackenzie versus Knox’, review of Catholicism in Scotland by Compton Mackenzie (Spectator March 1936)
9.26 Catherine Carswell, from letter to C.M. Grieve (May 1936)
9.27 James Barke, from ‘The Scottish National Question’ (Left Review November 1936)
9.28 From correspondence between James Barke and Neil M. Gunn (May 1938)
9.29 C.M. Grieve [editor], from ‘Notes of the Quarter’ (Voice of Scotland June–August 1938)
9.30 Wendy Wood, from ‘We Will Fight No More in England’s Wars. Eirich Alba.’ (Voice of Scotland June–August 1938)
9.31 Catherine Carswell, from letter to C.M. Grieve (October 1938)
9.32 Eric Linklater, Edwin Muir, Willa Muir, Open Letter concerning the Munich Agreement [1938]


Dr Margery Palmer McCulloch is Research Fellow in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. She has written widely on twentieth-century Scottish literature, her previous books including critical studies of Neil M. Gunn and Edwin Muir.

Cover illustration: ‘The Engineer, His Wife and His Family’, William McCance (1894–1970). Illustration courtesy of Mrs Margaret McCance and the Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow.

Cover design: Mark Blackadder


Also available:

Scottish & International Modernisms
Relationships and Reconfigurations

ed. Emma Dymock & Margery Palmer McCulloch
ASLS Occasional Papers series No. 15
This collection of essays illustrates the strongly international and modernist dimension of Scotland’s interwar revival, and illuminates the relationships between Scottish and non-Scottish writers and contexts. It also includes two chapters on the contribution made to this revival by Scottish visual art and music.

Pbk: £9.95


Last updated 3 October 2011.