Scottish Scene, or The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Albyn was first published by Jarrolds in 1934. Widely reviewed at the time, it quickly became one of the most controversial texts of the Scottish literary renaissance of the early decades of the twentieth century. J. M. Bulloch in The Sunday Times (3 June 1934) called its authors ‘Two Playboys of the Northern World’ – a reference to J. M. Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World, and its subversive impact on Irish life and letters. Those authors, Hugh MacDiarmid and Lewis Grassic Gibbon, were central to the ‘renaissance’ in its own time and remain of canonical importance in Scottish literature now, as well as becoming more widely known in recent decades as important international modernists. Scottish Scene’s puncturing of the complacencies of bourgeois Scotland in the 1930s ensures it remains a key text in the tradition. Yet, although it was republished by Hutchinson in the 1930s and Cedric Chivers in 1974, it has been out of print since (– the Gibbon material appears in Smeddum: A Lewis Grassic Gibbon Anthology, edited by Valentina Bold and published by Canongate in 2001). While MacDiarmid is best known as a poet and Gibbon as a novelist, Scottish Scene illustrates the range of their respective literary talents, with several genres of writing on display, including poems, essays, plays, sketches, and short stories. The book’s highlights – such as Gibbon’s electrifying sketch ‘Glasgow’ – are among the most important writings in modern Scottish literature and the text is also important for the questions it raises around the direction of Scottish literature and the Scots language – questions that remain pertinent today. A new edition, edited and introduced by Dr Scott Lyall, will update understanding of the book’s authors, the ‘renaissance’, and the Scotland of their era.
Lyall, S. (in press). Scottish Scene, or The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Albyn. Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literature