Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)


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He shamed you then? Or the fearful night during the harvest madness when she hears him lurking outside her bedroom door. We are well prepared for his attempted incest when it comes. Then the casual working tink offers to relieve Chris of her virginity, and she does consider it, however briefly. Ewan Tavendale is seen with Sarah Sinclair; Cuddiestoun surprises the manse maid and the minister; people talk about Will and his Molly, and the minister reveals the depth of his hypocrisy in this regard.

Now I must tell you a wee story that dates back to the first time I offered a Scottish special subject to Honours students, and I encountered the Donald Paterson syndrome. Donald was a bright and lively student: I learned later that he and his mate Callum used to rehearse some of their best lines together before the seminar, to get maximum impact — and it worked!

But since then I have seen it ever more clearly, and no longer feel simple gratitude. I now see that for all her unique intimacy with the reader, the self-reflexive you, Chris is regularly seized on by her male creator and displayed to the male gaze. This adds a new meaning to the Mirror Phase. Maybe using a word such as voyeurism is unkind and unnecessary, but there is an element of titillation here that seems unusual.

In Quarry Wood Martha Ironside is not a mirror sort of girl, and I think she is only recorded as looking in a glass twice.

Gibbon’s Chris: A Celebration With Some Reservations

But what did they all see in her eyes, she queried, staring in the dull and spotty mirror. What did they all see in them? She looked in the mirror longer than she had ever looked before, searching for her own beauty. It was not to be found there.


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QW The mirror is dull and spotty — and the colour of her eyes is suggested very specifically; and what other people see in her eyes is nothing she will ever find by looking in a mirror. Soon after she looks again, transformed by wearing the very special frock handed down through the family. This time she does almost glimpse an elusive, real Martha:. Wearing it, Martha had an uncanny sense of being someone other than herself; as though she had stepped carelessly to a mirror to dress her hair and had seen features not her own looking out from the glass.

The mere wearing of the frock could not have changed her: but like the mirror it served to make her aware of alteration; and she seemed to herself farther from her folk and her home. Wearing the lustre frock, she had no Ironside instincts. She did not belong to the Leggatts. Across the mirror of lustre there flitted an unfamiliar Martha with alien desires.

In Imagined Corners Elizabeth Shand is not a mirror person either. She is gawky and awkward, a girl with a passionate soul and no interest in make-up, but here she is resolving to be a good wife to the appalling Hector, and take care of him as he requires:. She now presented the comforting appearance that Hector expected of her.

She must have known this instinctively, for she first bathed and powdered her face, and then put on her prettiest frock. She inspected herself in the glass and added a string of coloured beads, signs of dawning femininity which might have pleased her sister-in-law. IC Elise Mutze, the continental sophisticate who used to be Lizzie Shand, is no doubt much more used to utilising the mirror than Elizabeth Shand. But her author does not take us there routinely. On this occasion a Calderwick tea-party has irritated Elise beyond bearing, and she has escaped, only to glimpse something very interesting in her bedroom mirror:.

In that moment of consciousness she caught sight of herself in the long mirror. One cannot look at oneself and remain angry; contrariwise, if one insists on remaining angry one cannot go on looking at oneself.

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Tom Crawford | Waterstones

Where have you been all these years? In all these examples the authors are using the simple act of looking in the mirror to convey complex nuances of character and theme. Oh well. The first is a moving picture of a beautiful, sensual woman looking frankly out at the reader, who is encouraged to dwell on her attractions, and follow the path, even the touch, of the moonlight.

Closed the window, shutting out the smells of the night, and slowly took off her clothes, looking at herself in the long glass. And below face and neck now her clothes were off was the glimmer of shoulders and breast and there her skin was like satin, it tickled her touching herself. Below the tilt of her left breast was a dimple, she saw it and bent to look at it and the moonlight ran down her back, so queer the moonlight she felt the running of that beam along her back. And she straightened as the moonlight grew and looked at the rest of herself, and thought herself sweet and cool and fit for that lover who would some day come and kiss her and hold her, so.

The same kind of description is found again, the emphasis this time less on wonderful hair and more on satin skin and long lines, with a touch of pity for those less well equipped. I have to quote again to underline the similarities, the effects:. And she saw the light white on the satin of her smooth skin then, and the long, smooth lines that lay from waist to thigh, thigh to knee, and was glad her legs were long from the knee to the ankle, that made legs seem stumbling and stumpy, shortness there.

Then she straightened and took down her hair and brushed it, standing so, silly to stand without her nightgown, but that was the mood she was in. Next is a snatch of the pregnant Chris, again admiring her reflection, and pitying by contrast women whom pregnancy does not become. She was glad, peeking at herself in the long mirror when she was alone, seeing gradually that smooth rounding of belly and hips below her frock — lucky, she had never that ugliness that some poor folk have to bear, awful for them.

The most that happens is that people rebel against the repressive society of Calderwick, and leave, and the main action is internal, a matter of self-discovery for the two main female characters. Contrast Sunset Song , where Chris is fifteen during the horror of the difficult birth of the twins. Similarly, in Imagined Corners we meet a wide range of characters of both sexes, the women most notable including, as well as the two Elizabeths, Sarah Murray, Mabel Shand, Aunt Janet and the Watson sisters. But in Sunset Song female characters other than Chris are stripped away or kept in very minor positions.

In the whole trilogy, Chris has only one equal female friend, Marget Strachan. Jean Guthrie of course is taken away from Chris as well, by her own act. Jean has apparently no compunction about killing them, although she has cared for them for a year; and Chris makes little of their deaths: both she and her father wonder later why Jean left them, but seem to have forgotten the babies, surely distinct personalities to the whole family by this time.

The rest of the family is stripped away, leaving Chris and her father alone. Now Chris is the only sexual focal point on the landscape, in an otherwise all-male environment, with sexual tensions in all directions, from Chae, Long Rob, Ewan, and of course Father. The local people who were affronted on the publication of Sunset Song perhaps had a point: it is drenched in sex, to a unique degree.

I find the treatment of the troubled love between Chris and Robert Colquohoun, as we see it in Cloud Howe, and in retrospect in Grey Granite, has greater depth than the treatment of sexuality in Sunset Song. He shamed you then? Or the fearful night during the harvest madness when she hears him lurking outside her bedroom door.

We are well prepared for his attempted incest when it comes. Then the casual working tink offers to relieve Chris of her virginity, and she does consider it, however briefly. Ewan Tavendale is seen with Sarah Sinclair; Cuddiestoun surprises the manse maid and the minister; people talk about Will and his Molly, and the minister reveals the depth of his hypocrisy in this regard.

Sunset Song

Now I must tell you a wee story that dates back to the first time I offered a Scottish special subject to Honours students, and I encountered the Donald Paterson syndrome. Donald was a bright and lively student: I learned later that he and his mate Callum used to rehearse some of their best lines together before the seminar, to get maximum impact — and it worked! But since then I have seen it ever more clearly, and no longer feel simple gratitude.

I now see that for all her unique intimacy with the reader, the self-reflexive you, Chris is regularly seized on by her male creator and displayed to the male gaze. This adds a new meaning to the Mirror Phase.


  1. Police for the Future (Studies in Crime and Public Policy).
  2. Additional information.
  3. Saint Edith Stein.
  4. Maybe using a word such as voyeurism is unkind and unnecessary, but there is an element of titillation here that seems unusual. In Quarry Wood Martha Ironside is not a mirror sort of girl, and I think she is only recorded as looking in a glass twice. But what did they all see in her eyes, she queried, staring in the dull and spotty mirror. What did they all see in them? She looked in the mirror longer than she had ever looked before, searching for her own beauty.

    It was not to be found there. QW The mirror is dull and spotty — and the colour of her eyes is suggested very specifically; and what other people see in her eyes is nothing she will ever find by looking in a mirror. Soon after she looks again, transformed by wearing the very special frock handed down through the family. This time she does almost glimpse an elusive, real Martha:. Wearing it, Martha had an uncanny sense of being someone other than herself; as though she had stepped carelessly to a mirror to dress her hair and had seen features not her own looking out from the glass.

    The mere wearing of the frock could not have changed her: but like the mirror it served to make her aware of alteration; and she seemed to herself farther from her folk and her home. Wearing the lustre frock, she had no Ironside instincts. She did not belong to the Leggatts. Across the mirror of lustre there flitted an unfamiliar Martha with alien desires. In Imagined Corners Elizabeth Shand is not a mirror person either. She is gawky and awkward, a girl with a passionate soul and no interest in make-up, but here she is resolving to be a good wife to the appalling Hector, and take care of him as he requires:.

    She now presented the comforting appearance that Hector expected of her. She must have known this instinctively, for she first bathed and powdered her face, and then put on her prettiest frock.

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    She inspected herself in the glass and added a string of coloured beads, signs of dawning femininity which might have pleased her sister-in-law. IC Elise Mutze, the continental sophisticate who used to be Lizzie Shand, is no doubt much more used to utilising the mirror than Elizabeth Shand. But her author does not take us there routinely.

    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)
    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)
    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)
    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)
    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)
    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)
    Sunset Song (Canongate Classics) Sunset Song (Canongate Classics)

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