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David Daiches

David Daiches is the Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His study of the 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Fergusson was published at the end of last year.

Whose war is it anyway?

David Daiches, 24 August 1995

In 1934 I came to Oxford from Edinburgh, where I had obtained my first degree. I found the place to be full of left-wing political feeling. The rise of Hitler had provoked many hitherto non-political young people to agitated concern about the future of Europe. The developing policy of appeasement; the ‘non-intervention’ policy of the British and French governments with respect to the Franco rebellion in Spain; the helpless feeling that the humane liberal traditions in which so many of us had been brought up were dangerously threatened: all of this had us seriously worried. It led many to believe that the only hope for Europe lay in the idea of a popular front in which all anti-Fascist forces would join with Soviet Russia to fight this evil. The Oxford Labour Club, to which I and all my friends in Oxford belonged, contained many members of the Communist Party who had joined because they believed Soviet Russia to be the only country that could be relied on to resist Fascism. Most of us at that time took a rosy view of the USSR and had no awareness of the cruelties of Stalinism. We eagerly read the publications of Gollancz’s Left Book Club and felt guilty at not going out to fight on the Republican side in Spain.

Don Roberto

David Daiches, 17 February 1983

Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham is one of the puzzles in Scottish literary history. Born in London in 1852, son of a Scottish laird of distinguished ancestry, he spent a considerable part of his youth on his estates, where he developed a strong affection for the Scottish landscape and Scottish traditions. His mother was half-Spanish and he learned Spanish as a child from his Spanish grandmother. He was educated at Harrow and in Brussels. His Hispano-Scottish background led to his being equally involved with Latin America, Spain and Scotland. He embarked on ranching in Argentina at the age of 17 and although that enterprise proved unsuccessful it provided him with a fund of experiences which he later enriched by further adventures in Texas, Mexico and North Africa. His travel sketches and accounts of experiences and characters met with in these adventures constitute an important part of his literary output.

Northern Lights

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 April 1984

The leading figures in all these books are well-known, and are located in a period of conspicuous intellectual activity in the Scotland of the mid and late 18th century. This was the time when...

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