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‘Of course, it didn’t work—that kind of scheme never does’: Scotland, the Nordic Imaginary, and the Mid-Twentieth-Century Thriller

Author:

Joe Kennedy

University of Gothenburg, SE
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Abstract

In the course of the last two decades, nationalist politics in Scotland have pivoted away from positing a civic identity founded on traditionally Celtic motifs—clans, tartan, the Gaelic language—in order to instead imagine an independent country closely resembling its Nordic near-neighbours in economic and cultural terms. Eulogising the Nordic welfare model, some secessionists have even suggested that a post-UK Scotland could join the Nordic Council. This article seeks to contextualise conceptualisations of Scottishness which lean on the ‘Nordic’ by examining representations of Northern Europe, and Scotland’s place within it, in two mid-twentieth-century Scottish thriller novels, John Buchan’s The Island of Sheep (1936) and Eric Linklater’s The Dark of Summer (1956). Respectively a unionist and a nationalist, Buchan and Linklater find opportunities in their work to explore both continuities and discontinuities between Scotland and the Nordic countries, and both demonstrate—with varying degrees of criticality—the extent to which a putative ‘Nordic Scottishness’ slips too easily into an exclusionary cultural logic. Drawing on geocriticism, this article will problematise efforts to re-found Scottish nationalism on the basis of a Nordicised cultural identity.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.625
How to Cite: Kennedy, J., 2020. ‘Of course, it didn’t work—that kind of scheme never does’: Scotland, the Nordic Imaginary, and the Mid-Twentieth-Century Thriller. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.311–333. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.625
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Published on 19 Dec 2020.
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