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‘That ancient self’: Scottish Modernism’s Counter-Renaissance

Lyall, Scott



This essay argues that the twentieth-century movement of literary and cultural revival known as the Scottish Renaissance was, like the Irish Revival lead by W.B. Yeats, a counter-Renaissance against the anti-national ideals of the Renaissance; it was also, somewhat paradoxically, a lament and a replacement for the Renaissance that Scotland supposedly did not have in the early modern period. While two of the main protagonists of the modern Renaissance, Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Muir, disagreed fundamentally over the future direction of Scottish letters, they both agreed that the Golden Age of Scottish literature occurred in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century period of Robert Henryson and William Dunbar. They, and others of the modern Renaissance, also agreed that the Reformation was a disaster for Scottish creativity. This historical pessimism of the Scottish Renaissance is related to its Modernist context.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 25, 2014
Publication Date Jan 2, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 24, 2014
Publicly Available Date Apr 24, 2014
Print ISSN 1382-5577
Electronic ISSN 1744-4233
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 73-85
Keywords Scottish Renaissance; Hugh MacDiarmid; Edwin Muir; Robert Henryson; William Dunbar; Reformation; Modernism; Irish Literary Revival;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Apr 24, 2014


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