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Gibbon, Lewis Grassic

scots novels chris mitchell

(British, 1901–35)

Lewis Grassic Gibbon was the pseudonym of Leslie Mitchell, a key figure in modern Scots writing alongside his friend Hugh MacDiarmid. He came from a crofting background, and was largely self-educated. His masterpiece was A Scots Quair, set in his home territory of Kincardineshire, first published as a trilogy of novels in 1946. It follows the life of a woman, Chris, from childhood on a bleak farm to bitter maturity in the 1930s, using Scots rhythms and vocabulary; the rich Lawrentian narrative captures the feelings of characters oppressed by local prejudice, religion, and the war. The opening volume, Sunset Song (1932), is the most lyrical, in which Chris escapes from her family into marriage. Politics becomes the increasing subject of the other novels, and by Grey Granite (1934) Chris and her son are divided by his involvement with the Communist Party. Mitchell also wrote novels under his own name, the best of which is Spartacus (1932), a drama of the slave revolt in Rome during 73–71 BC.

D. H. Lawrence, Naomi Mitchison, James Kelman  JS

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