THINKING OUTDOORS A Scots Quair as a Place-Based Perceptual Narrative
Abstract: This thesis is an ecocritical reading of A Scots Quair with a focus on agency and perception of place. A Scots Quair is a trilogy consisting of the novels Sunset Song, Cloud Howe and Grey Granite, first published in the 1930’s. In this thesis ‘Place’ is perceived as an important key to A Scots Quair, where the main character, Chris Guthrie, finds refuge for thinking outdoors in communication with the landscape, regardless of time or season. Chris’ integral relationship with the soil, the clouds and the stones turns these into agents of their own right, and simultaneously into key characters of the narrative. During her sessions ‘thinking outdoors’ she is the mediator of the story. Using an ecological term, Chris can be seen as ‘observing edges’, similar to what Mitchell Tomashow calls a ‘Place-Based Perceptual Ecology’ (2002, 73). Gibbon’s focus on a reciprocal relation to the landscape deserves contemporary recognition. The bioregion wherein Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s book is grounded is represented by four places where the human protagonist is placed. The whole narrative can in this way be considered a ‘Place-Based Perceptual Narrative’, although these places in the Scottish landscape could represent communication with any place on earth, not just Scotland. Gibbon’s had a significant local-global perspective (Gairn, 2008, 9). The problematic concept of ‘Nature’ is replaced with the relatively new term the ‘Earth Others’, a considerably less passive concept used by Val Plumwood (1939-2008). I see human physical relation to ‘Earth Others’ shown as potent throughout the entire trilogy, not just in Sunset Song, this is shown via a thematic reading of all three novels with focus on ‘Soil’ and ‘Stone’.
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