True Nations and Half People: Rewriting Nationalism in Alasdair Gray�s Poor Things
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This article seeks to explore the apparent contradictions between postmodernism and political nationalism in Alasdair Gray's novel Poor Things. While Gray himself has spoken out in favour of an independent Scottish republic, his ironic, self-referential fiction has often been characterised as a mode of writing whose irreconcilable paradoxes work against political engagement. This issue is studied as regards nationalism, particularly as Poor Things raises the question of how nations are constructed through their literature. Since Poor Things abounds in imagery of hybridity and duality, it is argued that any presumption of wholeness and unicity in the nation is necessarily to be treated with caution. However, through a study of the rival political discourses that permeate Poor Things, it appears that Scottish nationalism is not necessarily incompatible with a politicised form of postmodernist writing. Indeed, Poor Things' key themes of authorial power, contradictory discourses and rewriting are particularly pertinent to the question of nationalism.