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Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature by Louisa Gairn

By Louisa Gairn

A provocative and well timed reconsideration of recent Scottish literature within the mild of ecological notion. Louisa Gairn demonstrates the contribution of successive generations of Scottish writers to the improvement of foreign ecological conception and philosophy. She revisits the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, John Muir, Nan Shepherd, John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie, and George Mackay Brown, between others, to bare the importance of ecological concept throughout Scottish literary tradition. by means of tracing the medical, philosophical, and political impact of ecology on those writers, Gairn offers an unique realizing of Scottish literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the current. In an age of environmental predicament, Ecology and sleek Scottish Literature issues to a history of ecological idea that's of important relevance to either Scottish literary tradition and the broader box of eco-friendly reports.

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But I cannot help thinking that in this case the nature of the scenery has a great deal to do in predisposing the imagination to a melancholy case, and thus fitting the mind for receiving and retaining, if not originating the tragic or pathetic creation. This influence, too, might be wholly an unconscious one for many generations. It would thus affect the singer without his knowing it . G. 22 Both Veitch and Ramsay (the latter with a touch of bombast) seem convinced of the ‘naturalness’ of this perceived affinity with the Scottish hills, arguing that the capacity for nature appreciation or mountaineering is somehow embedded in the biology of individuals; a collective biological memory of the Scottish landscape transmissible to the individual psyche.

41 Despite the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s officially-stated wish to avoid political questions of rights of way, and the militaristic or imperial overtones of some of this mountaineering literature, it is important to acknowledge the often radical cultural background of the mountaineering movement and associated hiking and rambling clubs of Britain and elsewhere, which problematises a straightforward reading of such activity as imperialistic. 42 Enacting a campaign they called ‘the forbidden path’, this Austrian-based group claimed the leisure rights of the upper classes for themselves, transplanting this ethic across the Atlantic to the United States around the turn of the century.

Ramsay, Professor of Humanity at Glasgow University (1863–1906) and one Mr Naismith, who proposed to set up a ‘Scottish Alpine Club’ in imitation of the extremely popular Alpine Club based in London. Ramsay had formed the Cobbler Club, which he describes as the first Scottish mountaineering club, with Veitch and another student in their days at Edinburgh University, but there were few broad-based outdoors organisations in Scotland at the time of this correspondence. 29 The Scottish club was formed, Ramsay contends, out of the need to foster a ‘love’ for the Scottish landscape and at the same time: to bring home to the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen the fact that we have here, in our Highland hills, the most delightful and inspiring playground that is to be found from one end of Europe to the other .

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