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Extra resources for Contemporary Scottish Gothic: Mourning, Authenticity, and Tradition

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Scott, Robertson suggests, has shaped modern Scotland, and continues so to do. Yet as productive as this re-evaluative process appears in Robertson’s non-fiction writings, in Gideon Mack it has distinctly less positive implications. The view of Scott put forth in the novel is arguably closer to Rigney’s re-evaluation of Scott’s influence: for Gideon Mack, Scott is most useful once forgotten. Scott begins to shape the novel not when he is the subject of explicit allusions, but afterwards. This can be seen both in the choice of Old Mortality as a key intertext and in the more explicit discussion of Robert Kirk’s The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies later in the novel.

The quotation is crucially unfinished: while reading suggests a meeting between actuality and imagination, that encounter can never be completed. Texts exist only at the border between the two. As the frame narrative of Smith’s essays makes clear, while this encounter between life and death, and between actuality and imagination, may Introduction 25 be inherent in all literature, it is most fully realised in Gothic. Gothic presents a world that both necessitates and refuses the completion of narratives: as both form and tradition, it is always a force of disruption.

This conscious appropriation and revision of a literary tradition invites a consideration of Gothic as a form that both upholds and distorts literary tradition. At the same time that these novels reaffirm Hogg’s canonical status, they also indicate the novel’s malleability. By reimagining or even perverting their source material, these modern adaptations invite questions of authorship and originality, as well as the construction of a national or generic literary tradition: in these latter versions or revisions, the questions of textual authenticity raised by Hogg’s novel operate both internally and externally.

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