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Scottish Literature Blog Entry. Week 3 (13-19th of October).


This week in class we discussed ‘The Double and the Caledonian Antisyzygy’. This idea proposes that binary opposites and duality are fundamentally part of Scottish literature and the Scottish psyche. This duality exists within our literature, for example in ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson with the parallels of: good versus evil; and realism versus fantasy. However, the idea of duality is also apparent in terms of our culture, with conflicts between: the ‘proper’ English language and the ‘troglodytic’ Scots regional dialects; a sense of Scottish identity and nationalism versus a sense of British identity and unionism; east coasters and west coasters; and the religious tensions between Catholicism and Protestantism. These conflicts seem to have developed into a sense of inferiority within Scottish character as division can seemingly be found within almost every part of our society; therefore creating weakness and tension. These anxieties and frustrations about the social position of Scotland, stemming from the feeling of being a subordinate and a subculture of Britain, could be considered to have been translated into a defensiveness and occasional anger to the point where Scots feel that they are allowed to playfully mock their own culture but people from other nations should not. In the words of Scottish comedian, Kevin Bridges, “We are a proud people but we’re not quite sure what we are proud of.”

Reflections on a work not discussed in class:

The idea of duality in Scottish character could be developed further in terms of Scottish personality and conduct. This article – reports that Glasgow was ranked the most violent area in Britain, beating vastly higher populated cities such as London and cities with globally renowned and notorious violence such as Belfast. However in stark contrast to this shocking report, this article – names Scotland as part of the top 10 friendliest nations in the world. I believe as well as duality playing a part in our literature and culture, it also plays a part in our behaviours and mentalities as Scots appear to be ‘fiercely friendly’. This duelled Scottish personality is also exemplified by the reaction given to the Scottish man who assaulted the terrorist behind the 2007 Glasgow International Airport Attack as, the citizen was, perhaps ironically, praised, hailed a hero and thought of in a pleasant way for committing an act of violence. I believe Frankie Boyle captures this attitude in typical droll Scottish character by in saying, in his attempt to explain Glasgow, that “If I had to pick a city in the world where I could depend on a member of the public to punch a man who was on fire, it would be Glasgow.” ( ) This statement effectively encapsulates dry Scottish comedy and exemplifies the Scottish defence mechanism of humour and absurdity, as Scots completely reject the fear of terrorism and disregard the anxieties of speaking about something so ‘risqué’ in comedy and are instead brave and bring humour and light-heartedness to something potentially very threatening.


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