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Fragments of Union: Making Connections in Scottish and by S. Manning

By S. Manning

Fragments of Union , a brand new method of comparative literary experiences, is set sorts of connections: among international locations, literatures, contributors, phrases. It asks how, and why, connections get severed, and in regards to the nature of the items that stay. Interdisciplinary readings of writings by way of Scots and american citizens re-draw the literary map of either international locations through the Enlightenment and Romantic classes. Political, philosophical, cultural and grammatical dimensions supply its research sharp relevance to the hot stipulations awarded by way of devolved executive in Britain.

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It is, suggestively, embedded in discussion of the transitive rather than hierarchical relations which characterise aesthetic coherence, that Dugald Stewart coined the term now indissolubly associated with Freudian analysis: 'the affinity between A and B may produce a transference of the name of the first to the second' ('On the Beautiful', p. 195). Additionally, the form of my argument assumes that some crucial terms of Freudian psychology issue from Reid's discussion of consciousness and reflection upon the operations of consciousness.

I would suggest, as another working generalisation, that (facing similar dilemmas earlier, and in a different cultural matrix) Scottish writers characteristically took a different route. Both Hume and his antagonists, perceiving the destructive consequences of empirical self-analysis to the possibility of integral identity for both self and nation, moved quickly to re-socialise its fragmenting tendencies. The ready elision from personal to national or transcendent wholes or unities tended to omit the 'reality check' provided by recourse to a mediating social dimension.

Interestingly, Hume describes the bonds holding together the 'English Nation' (that is, the united countries of England and Scotland) as the least cohesive and homogenising of all: 'Hence the English, of any people in the universe, have the least of national character'; he finds the 'particular manners of the English not to havre] the same effect' in 'the neighbouring country of Scotland' (207). Analogous beliefs about the inevitability of internal disunion in the absence of sympathetic bonding appear to have determined Hume's early support for colonial independence, against the prevailing temper of opinion amongst Edinburgh literati.

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