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That Time

Liam McIlvanney: Magda Szabó, 15 December 2005

The Door 
by Magda Szabó, translated by Len Rix.
Harvill Secker, 262 pp., £15.99, October 2005, 1 84343 193 9
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... better than a conjuring trick.’ The image of the novelist as a disreputable conjuror is one that Alasdair Gray uses in Lanark (1981), and Szabó shares with Gray both a mundane view of the artist’s calling and a respect for the artist’s unsung abettors. Gray punctiliously ...

Beautiful People

Jonathan Coe, 23 July 1992

Brightness Falls 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 416 pp., £15.99, May 1992, 0 7475 1152 7
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The Lost Father 
by Mona Simpson.
Faber, 506 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 571 16149 9
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Out with the Stars 
by James Purdy.
Peter Owen, 192 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0861 9
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... is to portray New York life at its brightest and darkest – to present (in a phrase which Alasdair Gray used of Dickens and Hugo) ‘a rich social variety in a strong moralising sauce’. This moralising is expressed through plot rather than explicit commentary. Russell misbehaves himself both financially and sexually (although on the latter ...

Devolution Doom

Christopher Harvie: Scotland’s crisis, and some solutions, 5 September 2002

... 1890s, along with self-government. Which is why Geddes – a recurrent presence in the novels of Alasdair Gray – counts as a patron of devolution, and indeed of that peaceable civic Europe in which Gray’s ‘Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Republic’ would find its place. The outcome has been rather ...

Do you like him?

Ian Jack: Ken Livingstone, 10 May 2012

You Can’t Say That: Memoirs 
by Ken Livingstone.
Faber, 710 pp., £9.99, April 2012, 978 0 571 28041 4
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... Hobsbaum, who in his later academic career encouraged many writers, including Seamus Heaney and Alasdair Gray, got him to read Nineteen Eighty-Four, which Livingstone reckons influenced his political beliefs more than any other book. Raymond Rivers, his biology teacher, stimulated his lifelong enthusiasm for reptiles and amphibians, which reached ...


David Craig, 6 July 1989

A Search for Scotland 
by R.F. Mackenzie.
Collins, 280 pp., £16.95, May 1989, 0 00 215185 5
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A Claim of Right for Scotland 
edited by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Polygon, 202 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6022 4
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The Eclipse of Scottish Culture 
by Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull.
Polygon, 121 pp., £6.95, May 1989, 0 7486 6000 3
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The Bird Path: Collected Longer Poems 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 239 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 245 2
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Travels in the Drifting Dawn 
by Kenneth White.
Mainstream, 160 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 1 85158 240 1
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... writing to count again on the British scene after a post-war doldrum. Canongate have published Alasdair Gray, most innovative of Scottish novelists, and made available at least an adequate, small bilingual selection of the chief living Gaelic poet, Sorley Maclean. Mainstream have brought into print again, after a long hibernation in the second-hand ...

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne, 21 May 2020

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot: The Great Mistake of Scottish Independence 
by John Lloyd.
Polity, 224 pp., £20, April 2020, 978 1 5095 4266 6
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The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation 
by Scott Hames.
Edinburgh, 352 pp., £24.99, November 2019, 978 1 4744 1814 0
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... Craig wrote in 2003, ‘it had much earlier declared cultural devolution,’ with everyone from Alasdair Gray to the Proclaimers providing Scotland with representation in lieu of the Assembly that failed to appear in 1979. ‘If politics and votes were the means of bringing the parliament into existence, they were not its direct cause,’ according to ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... In his contribution to the recent collection Unstated: Writers on Scottish Independence, Alasdair Gray addresses the native-immigrant distinction – natives implicitly, immigrants explicitly. He divides immigrants into two kinds: ‘Immigrants into Scotland, as into other lands, are settlers or colonists. English settlers are as much a part of ...


Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks, 26 January 1995

... Class counted. In retrospect, this episode recalled the subterranean Institute in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, where the delegates to an interminable conference spectate on the external world via an immense camera obscura. Gray probably stole this contraption from the Edinburgh Outlook Tower of his hero ...

The Right Stuff

Alan Ryan, 24 November 1994

The Principle of Duty 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 288 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 1 85619 474 4
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... what they need in Selbourne. One problem is that Selbourne (like a somewhat kindred spirit, John Gray) is very hostile to the laissez-faire enthusiasms of the past 15 years. His animus against the Labour Party is, for obvious reasons, fiercer than his dislike of the Conservative Party, but his conviction that enterprises which serve the public good should be ...

Ruck in the Carpet

Glen Newey: Political Morality, 9 July 2009

Philosophy and Real Politics 
by Raymond Geuss.
Princeton, 116 pp., £11.95, October 2008, 978 0 691 13788 9
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... thoughts which people – such as those on the receiving end of its power – have about it. As Alasdair MacIntyre pointed out long ago, this dims the prospects for a would-be science of comparative politics. It equally dims the outlook for a general theory of political legitimacy. It might be thought that moralism was a disorder of left-liberals. But it ...

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