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Glasgow Urban Writing and Postmodernism

A Study of Alasdair Gray's Fiction


Beat Witschi

Alasdair Gray is one of the most innovative and imaginative writers to have appeared on the Scottish literary scene for many years. Gray radically challenges the vision of Glasgow and Scotland as defined by the traditional Glasgow novel. This study first looks back into the past of Glasgow writing to locate some specific novelistic models which Gray echoes in his fiction. The main part of the study then illustrates that Gray's literary attitude of looking beyond Glasgow (or Scotland) is much more helpful in «imagining Glasgow» than to follow the established and trodden paths of Scottish urban writing. In this sense, Gray proves that the narrative techniques characteristic of postmodernist writing are not only helpful in expressing the often quoted Scottish experience of fragmentation, but also in overcoming the artistic stalemate of the Glasgow novel.
Contents:«Let Glasgow Flourish»: From John Galt to Alasdair Gray - Lanark: The truth about Glasgow; transformed images; the «epilogue» chapter - The «Logopandocy» Story: Words and Fabulations - Janine: Telling Tales and Creating Worlds; the Myth-Making Faculty - The Re-vision of an old literary landscape.