Scot Lit Essay

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Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 05/06/2010 09:47 AM

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How fair is it to say that literature of the Kailyard was no more than an abuse of Scottish culture?

The term Kailyard literature has been used and is still being used in a dismissive manner. At the centre of cultural debate and of Scottish history the word Kailyard has been at the forefront. In attempting to layout an analysis of Scottish culture scholars and critics have joined literary historians in using the term.

The origins of Kailyard can be traced back to the late 19th century movement in Scottish fictions, in which ideals of parochial villages were idealised as the true Scotland. Its name originated from the Scottish meaning of a small cabbage patch bordering a cottage.[1] While the writers of this genre were wide read throughout England, Scotland and even America this some what provincial and insular view of Scotland and its inhabitants quickly became viewed as over-sentimental, which amongst contemporary Scottish realists received a hostile reaction.

This essay will determine the literary, social and cultural implications that this genre of writing brought to Scotland. The essay will consider the key issues of the 20th century with regards to the Scottish cultural debate and the parochialism of Scottish culture.

Firstly the definition of ‘Kailyard’ should be addressed before examining the effects it had on Scottish literature and the perception of Scotland. The ‘Kailyard school’ of Scottish fiction was developed in the 1890s as a reaction against what was seen as a fictitious representation of Scottish life.[2] It has been considered by many as being an over sentimental representation of rural life, unsusceptible to real problems and issues that affected real people. However Kailyard literature as it was later to be known as, was widely and great fully received by Scots living abroad, who desired images of Scotland, which reconfirmed their sense of the contented life, which they had now left behind. It is thought that the Scottish...