Thursday, 19 July 2007


Via the community weblog MetaFilter: the official website of the Glaswegian artist and writer Alasdair Gray. For those who don't know Gray, his most famous work is the novel Lanark. It follows twin narratives of the semi-autobiographical Duncan Thaw, an unhappy asthmatic artist; and his alter ego Lanark, an amnesic man who finds himself in Unthank, a Glasgow-like dystopian city.
      Lanark's structure is unusual: its four books are arranged in the order Three, One, Two, Four. It's rich in literary allusions: Gray includes a whole chapter listing and analysing the varous "plagiarisms" (the whole structure for instance, can be viewed as a diffuse plagiarism of Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies). Postmodern literature? Fantasy? Social satire? The definitive novel on the Scottish condition? Probably all of them.
      Gray explains some of the background to it and some of his other works to Mark Axelrod at An Epistolary Interview, Mostly with Alasdair Gray. Also online, Canongate Press reprints Gray's article How Lanark grew - in Alasdair Gray's words, which is included with the Canongate Classic edition. There's much more, including examples of Gray's art (he illutstrates his own works), at the unofficial website, Lanark 1982. - Ray

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