Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/3312
Casting a Long Shadow. A Study of Masculinity and Hard Men in Twentieth-Century Scottish Fiction
The aim of this essay is to study the portrayal of flawed and destructive masculinity in twentieth-century Scottish fiction. Its thesis is that patriarchal images of manhood
and mythical representations of the Scottish hard man have been instrumental in
creating a perception of failed masculinity and the resulting identity crisis of male
protagonists. The development of Scottish male characters throughout the century is
studied in eight primary novels written between 1901 and 1993. Various secondary
novels, texts and articles pertaining to the study of Scottish literature and/or gender
studies are also used to emphasise the points being made.
The essay begins with a chapter on the overview of the history of Scotland,
Scottish fiction, and the major thematic breakthroughs of men’s studies in the
twentieth-century. The focus is then turned towards the eight novels: George
Douglas Brown’s The House of the Green Shutters, John MacDougall Hay’s
Gillespie, Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Grey Granite, James Kelman’s The Busconductor
Hines, Jeff Torrington’s Swing Hammer Swing!, Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, Ron
Butlin’s The Sound of My Voice and William McIlvanney’s Docherty. Finally, the
possible future of the hard man in Scottish fiction is briefly discussed.
The eight novels portray images of Scottish masculinity that have certainly
developed and changed throughout the century. At first, the male protagonists are
brutal small town patriarchs, but later they are succeeded by strong working-class
figures. The post-war era brings about a significant change in society and culture
and this is reflected in male characters in Scottish fiction becoming increasingly
marginalised and alienated. It seems almost impossible for them to escape the flaws
and failures of previous characters or to step out of their patriarchal shadow.