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Don PatersonContemporary Critical Essays$
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Natalie Pollard

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748669417

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748669417.001.0001

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Scotland, Britain and The Elsewhere of Poetry

Scotland, Britain and The Elsewhere of Poetry

(p.85) 6 Scotland, Britain and The Elsewhere of Poetry
Don Paterson

Gerard Carruthers

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter analyses Paterson's work in terms of national identity, inheritance, and literary history, considering the poet's engagement with Scottish forebears. How resistant is his work to being read primarily in the context of the Scottish literary tradition? It begins by analysing Paterson's handling of these issues as an editor: his production of the slim anthology of Scotland's ‘national bard’ creatively, and cannily, rethinks the totemic status of Robert Burns. It examines whether the goading, guiding tone of Paterson's critical introductions are editorial strategies that underline the impossibility of completely consensual certainty in interpretation, even editorial interpretation, or whether his brooking of disagreement and his heckling prose reveal a more straightforwardly quarrelsome inability to renounce ‘forceful opinion’. The chapter considers Paterson's poetry in the light of these questions. It also poses questions about Paterson's depictions of the current UK scene and its schisms in prose and poetry.

Keywords:   Don Paterson, British poetry, British poets, national identity, inheritance, literary history, Robert Burns, prose, Scottish literary tradition

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