By Timothy C. Baker (auth.)
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Extra info for Contemporary Scottish Gothic: Mourning, Authenticity, and Tradition
While this is superficially traditional Gothic artifice, it also suggests that this blend of fact and fiction is inherently unstable. 26 Scott’s story marks this moment, offering both the superstitious and the rational, and implying that 34 Contemporary Scottish Gothic while neither can be sufficient on their own, their mixture is similarly disruptive. The epigraph to the story-within-a-story, itself also called ‘Phantasmagoria’, comes from Macbeth: ‘Come like SHADOWS – so depart’ (40). The author, as shadow, can be known only through his disappearance.
Gothic questions the certainties of representation on which much literature depends; as such, examining contemporary Scottish Gothic permits a necessary re-examination of the relationships between life and death, past and present, and image and actuality. 1 Gothic, at its most basic level, explores questions not only of history and tradition, but also of how the apparent instability of historical origins casts doubt on the stability of the self. 2 The relationship between tradition, selfhood, and authorship is rarely more apparent than in the many explicit reworkings of novels by Walter Scott, James Hogg, and Robert Louis Stevenson produced over the past decades.
In Massie’s novel, the supernatural is revealed as what is left out of official narratives; it is what can only be attested to, what must always be qualified and cannot be proved. Scott occupies a similar place in Robertson’s early collection Scottish Ghost Stories. 31 Texts in themselves appear to constitute a form of authority. At one point Robertson introduces a lengthy quote from Scott (drawn from a note to The Antiquary) with the claim that ‘there is little point in paraphrasing Scott’ (107).