‘Ootward Boond Frae Scotland’: MacDiarmid, Modernism and the Masses

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:
‘Ootward Boond Frae Scotland’: MacDiarmid, Modernism and the Masses

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This chapter interprets the internationalism of the poet’s vernacular modernism as a challenge to capitalism’s global marketing of mass culture. Hugh MacDiarmid decentres the geography of exilic metropolitan modernism by creating work of continuing international importance whilst remaining resolutely national. He was a self-declared cultural elitist, yet also a lifelong socialist. MacDiarmid’s sense of elect superiority would leave him impatient with the concept of fraternity. He assumes the cultural to be more important than the political in his communist poems. MacDiarmid took his concept of the interpreting class from John Buchan. His scathing analysis of the interpreting class arises from his loathing of an anglicised Scottish middle class that has provincialised the nation. MacDiarmid stays true to his elect faith in the evolutionary potential of creative generalist thought and high art to transcend a capitalist order that spiritually enfeebles and politically disenfranchises the masses.

Keywords: capitalism; global marketing; mass culture; vernacular modernism; Hugh MacDiarmid; Scotland; interpreting class

Chapter.  17461 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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