"Acting the part of an illiterate savage": James Kelman and the question of postcolonial masculinity

Carole Jones
2009 Journal of Postcolonial Writing  
Acting the part of an illiterate savage": James Kelman and the question of postcolonial masculinity Citation for published version: Jones, C 2009, '"Acting the part of an illiterate savage": James Kelman and the question of postcolonial Abstract: The ubiquitous hard man of twentieth-century Scottish culture is often constructed as a product of English colonialism, a reaction to the feminisation and inferiorisation of Scottish culture. This article investigates the appropriateness and
more » ... ness and implications of this approach to Scottishness in the context of James Kelman's framing of his writing through a postcolonial vision of cultural resistance and his Booker Prize winning novel How Late It Was, How Late. "[T]o put this more starkly, to the extent that English literature was, as [Robert] Crawford persuasively suggests, a Scottish invention, then so was British colonialism." (Michael Gardiner, "A Light to the World") The construction of Scotland as an English colony continues to be a common Scottish preoccupation, if at times humorously on the street, then more seriously in nationalist political discourse and the academy. In the late twentieth-century period postcolonial ideas punctuated these debates. For example, Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull, in their book The Eclipse of Scottish Culture (1989) refer to Franz Fanon's concept of the colonial inferiorisation of native culture in relation to the Scottish context. More recently, Ellen-Raïsa Jackson and Willy Maley in their article "Celtic Connections: Colonialism and Culture in Irish-Scottish Modernism" argue that these two cultures are "intimately estranged by precisely what ties them together--colonialism" (77). This paper explores some appropriations of colonial and postcolonial discourses with regard to the Scottish writing scene and the appropriateness of their mobilisation in this context. Here I focus on the specific case of the awarding of the Booker Prize for fiction to James Kelman for
doi:10.1080/17449850903064724 fatcat:yogow5beqbg7hfgk2mz25oelfa