‘Long and Intimate Connections’: Constructing a Scottish Identity for Blackwood’s Magazine

  • David Finkelstein


Any investigation of Scottish cultural and national identity in the nineteenth-century periodical press must invariably confront the underlying myths and narrative strategies used in such textual constructions. Yet surprisingly few attempts have been made to initiate such investigations. In part this is due to the politically orientated and sociological nature of most recent critical work on the subject.1 These texts tend to give short shrift to nineteenth-century constructions of Scottish identity because of their perceived lack of nationalist sentiment in the wake of an industrialized and ideologically conservative period in Scottish history. By the mid to late nineteenth century, according to most surveys of Scottish cultural and economic history, the political yoking of Scotland to England, which had begun with the union of the Scottish and English parliaments in 1707, and the subsequent economic and industrial development of Scotland in tandem with the spreading of the British Empire, had resulted in a complacently depoliticized Scotland, one in which there existed what one critic has neatly summarized as ‘an ideology of noisy inaction’ (Womack 1989, 147). In this reading of Scottish cultural history, the general consensus is that cultural and literary stagnation followed the Scottish Enlightenment of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, culminating in, among other things, the fin-de-siècle Kailyard literary movement, with its sentimental, romantic and idealized depiction of a pre-industrial rural Scotland.


National Identity Late Nineteenth Century Literary Production Periodical Press Narrative Strategy 
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Works cited

  1. Blackwood III, William. 24 August 1894, Blackwood Papers, National Library of Scotland, MS 30380, 581–2.Google Scholar
  2. Colby, Robert and Vineta. ‘Mrs. Oliphant’s Scotland: The Romance of Reality’, in Ian Campbell, ed., Nineteenth Century Scottish Fiction. Manchester, 1979, 89–104.Google Scholar
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  9. Womack, Peter. Improvement and Romance: Constructing the Myth of the Highlands. Basingstoke, 1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© David Finkelstein 2000

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  • David Finkelstein

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