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Showing posts from March, 2017

The Well at the World's End

A professor of Ancient History, whilst walking in the Highlands, encounters, with his wife, Fand, a well whose water is so clear that they are momentarily led to believe that it is dry. Where does the water end and the air begin for there appears to be no boundary?

This triggers in Peter Munro, the professor, a quixotic desire to go a wandering in search of a particular kind of adventure and to find 'the well at the world's end'. The adventure is to allow himself to meet all kind of folk and by paying them a certain kind of attention to tease from them stories when, like the well, they found that their ordinary boundary between self and world had disappeared and they had peeked into another world, though one wholly enfolded in this one.

This is then not an 'ordinary' novel - and one that quite baffled its readership. For its author was an accomplished writer of social realism - of the complex history and life of the Highlands - not notably regarded as a metaphysic…

Wild Geese Overhead: Where does reform begin?

"Wild Geese Overhead" is an atypical novel for Neil Gunn. It is not set in the Highlands that were his home but in Glasgow. It is a Glasgow deeply divided between the world of the bourgeoise and the working class. A world teetering on the edge of renewed conflict and one broken by the scourge of Depression of the 1930s.

In the life of its central character, Will, a sub-editor at an evening newspaper, Gunn explores the 'age old' question as to where does social transformation begin? Does it begin with the individual or with society? Like many age old questions, the answer is often not 'either or' but 'both and' but by temperament, drawn to one or other end of the equation, we continue to argue it out.

Will wants to suggest, whilst recognising in his conversations with his socialist friend, Joe, that we are products of our circumstances, that there is another dimension to our selves that brings them to a completing wholeness. It is a wholeness he has t…