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  • Casting a Long Shadow. A Study of Masculinity and Hard Men in Twentieth-Century Scottish Fiction
  • Meistara
  • 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.

  • 4.2.2009

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