At the Edge of the World

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:
At the Edge of the World

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This chapter concentrates on Whalsay, which is vital to the creation of Hugh MacDiarmid’s poetry and politics. In Red Scotland, MacDiarmid has ‘cut himself off almost entirely from personal contact with the self-styled intelligentsia’ of the nation, living instead ‘off the dole among the crofters and fishermen’ of Whalsay. The political philosophy of Red Scotland derives from John Maclean’s August 1920 declaration for a Scottish Workers’ Republic. From his exilic home in Whalsay, MacDiarmid’s poetry exhibits both revolutionary ardour and the loneliness of loss. The spirituality of MacDiarmid’s communism counters the metropolitan manufacturing of class culture, whether that be represented in the boosting of the Auden set in the interests of bourgeois consumption, or in the production of trash culture designed for the masses.

Keywords: Hugh MacDiarmid; Whalsay; poetry; politics; Red Scotland; political philosophy; John Maclean; communism; Auden

Chapter.  14786 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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