Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Review of "A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle"

The quotation above pretty much describes my current mood: "I am not so much drunk, as tired - dead done". The first few days back at uni have been exhausting - meal prepping, unpacking, going to lectures and seminars, going to the gym, and trying to fit in time for some actual uni work and reading as well! I'm currently sat in bed with a toasty mug of green tea, in some new fluffy PJs hoping that tomorrow is less hectic. 

As you've probably already guessed, this book isn't the easiest in the world to read. It's in fact a long poem written in vernacular Scottish - imagine coming across a drunk Scottish farmer in a rural area and you've just about got the gist of it. Oh, and get that farmer to translate the odd Russian poem into Scots dialect here and there. The entire text is purposefully de-anglocentric, as MacDiarmid was calling for a Scottish Renaissance in terms of literature. To move away from the static resonance to English literature in Scottish fiction was most definitely the way forward in his eyes.

I have to say, this wasn't a book I would necessarily read if I didn't have to. Having said that, it's really the only text by a Scottish author that I've ever read which defies English literature, and stands up in opposition to it. The whole notion that Scottish people do not have a language of their own, which pervades the entire poem, really pointed out to me something which I'd never thought about before. Moreover, if you want to read some fantastic imagery concerning thistles (a bit niche, but hey ho), then check it out!

Have you read it? What did you think?

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