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Scottish GothicAn Edinburgh Companion$
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Carol Margaret Davison and Monica Germana

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474408196

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474408196.001.0001

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Scottish Gothic Poetry

Scottish Gothic Poetry

(p.75) Chapter 6 Scottish Gothic Poetry
Scottish Gothic

Alan Riach

Edinburgh University Press

The first sentence of the Preface to Émile Mâle’s magisterial study of religious art in thirteenth-century France, The Gothic Image, reads: ‘To the Middle Ages, art was didactic’ (1972: vii). Gothic Scottish poetry may be described as engaging with the macabre, nightmare qualities of an unbearable or unresolvable vision, yet its historical connection to medieval Gothic art – all the arts, from music to architecture – reminds us that this engagement has didactic purpose. It teaches us how life is multifaceted and ultimately uncontrollable, how the irrational imposes itself inexplicably upon the best ideals of rational humanity. This is one reason why the term ‘Gothic’ was originally pejorative and opposed to the ethos of certainty and assurance promulgated by Classicism.

Keywords:   Gothic, Scottish, Poetry, Art, Narrative

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