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Hugh MacDiarmid's Poetry and Politics of PlaceImagining a Scottish Republic$
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Scott Lyall

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748623341

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623341.001.0001

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

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

(p.151) Chapter 5 ‘Ootward Boond Frae Scotland’: MacDiarmid, Modernism and the Masses
Hugh MacDiarmid's Poetry and Politics of Place

Scott Lyall

Edinburgh University Press

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

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