Debatable Land

Scott Lyall

in Hugh MacDiarmid's Poetry and Politics of Place

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623341
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652167 | DOI:
Debatable Land

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This chapter explores Langholm, which is central to the creation of Hugh MacDiarmid’s poetry and politics. His self-imposed intellectual task began in the Langholm Library. MacDiarmid revenges his insecurities by creating a fictional autodidact epitomising the generalism of the foregone academic tradition of a metaphysical Scotland. The extent to which books about foreign countries (classified as geography) fill the shelves is the most striking thing about the Langholm Library. MacDiarmid’s birthplace in the Debatable Land of the Scottish Borders provided a dialectical source of inspiration throughout his life. The poet’s grief over the loss of his wife and children precipitated a crisis of identity that called him back imaginatively to his past in Langholm as he sought to find emotional resources with which to cope with the alienation of the present. From Langholm, his provincialist universalism was to be reborn in another ‘wee Nazareth’ in Angus, north-east Scotland.

Keywords: Langholm Library; Hugh MacDiarmid; poetry; politics; Debatable Land; Scotland

Chapter.  10626 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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