On Books

This weblog series will deal with whatever comes up my back in regard to Scottish music, dance, politics, language, books, etc etc etc. So the gentle reader is warned that the actual subject will (not may) vary widely and cover topics that may very well bore the hapless reader to death. For the nonce, a mention of what I’m currently reading may suffice.

I usually have at least a couple of things I’m reading in tandem, depending on how much time and energy I feel like expending on them. A whodunit, generally, on the fiction side, and some heavy tome on the non-fiction.  I’ve just finished an old Elizabeth George murder story set in wild Scotland, which bothered me much because EG has some very curious ideas about how the northern peasantry speak. This is actually a recurring criticism of mine, she’s by no means the only non-Scot to make howlers large and minor about the guid Scots tongue, and for the life of me I cannot understand why they don’t check up with a native speaker as to the accuracy or just plausibility of the dialogue. The title, by the way, is Payment in Blood.

The other book I sent away for from Inter-Library Loan, bless ‘em, having seen it recommended by a contributor to a thread on a Scottish Nationalist site. This is a scholarly edition of the account by George Lockhart of Carnwath of the events leading up the Union of Parliaments in 1707, an event which he was by no means enthusiastic about. He’s partisan, of course, and some of his comments and opinions can easily be discounted (though forgiven), yet…. The story is a sad catalogue of mischief, scheming, back-room skulduggery and quasi-criminal shenanigans that put the entire Union in what seems to my prejudiced eye an untenable situation. More of this later perhaps. Look it up yourselves – title is

‘Scotland’s Ruine’: Lockhart of Carnwath’s Memoirs of the Union. Edited by Daniel Szechi, with a foreword by Paul Scott. Aberdeen 1995, published by The Association for Scottish Literary Studies (who’ve brought out some other good stuff).

Next time maybe I’ll talk about the Child ballads, the last volume of a new edition having just appeared.

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