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Volume 11 Issue 4 – Scottish Review of Books

Volume 11 Issue 4

Wrecking Edinburgh: The Story Continues

September 3, 2016

‘There is nothing more terrible than ignorance in action,’ wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the sublime poet-philosopher who brought former Edinburgh University Rector, Thomas Carlyle, ‘from darkness to light’. How times have changed. In ages past our universities were centres of humane enlightenment...

Volume 11 Issue 4 Editorial

August 5, 2016

Seven decades ago plans for the first Edinburgh International Festival, which finally took place in 1947, were well underway. Its promoters were visionaries who through art and culture aspired to unite nations and peoples who for six long and calamitous years were hellbent on wiping each other out....


August 10, 2016
by Nick Major

The quality of Gavin Francis’ books belies the fact that writing is not his only occupation. Born in Fife in 1975, he qualified from medical school in Edinburgh in 1999 and spent ten years travelling around the world.

SRB Diary: In the Merchant City

August 10, 2016
by Alan Taylor

From time immemorial Glaswegians and Edinburghers have rejoiced in mutual disrespect. Early visitors to Glasgow were apt often to compare it to its rival an hour or so away as ScotRail trundles and invariably they favoured the latter.

No Belles de Jour Here

August 10, 2016
by Anni Donaldson

Whilst history may be one of the oldest scholarly disciplines, it has, until more recent times mostly averted its gaze from that other so-called ‘oldest profession’, prostitution, particularly in the Scottish context.

Dancing to the Devil’s Music

August 10, 2016
by Alasdair McKillop

Paul Mason continues to be much in the news despite having left his job as the Economics Editor at Channel 4. He is an itinerant prophet of post-capitalism and high-profile supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

In the Zone

August 10, 2016
by Colin Waters

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?’ The title of Paul Gauguin’s 1897 painting sounds like a series of questions plucked from Philosophy 101 – until you reach middle age.

God Bothering

August 10, 2016
by Brian Morton

In George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Edward Casaubon laboured fruitlessly for many years over The Key To All Mythologies. Richard Holloway knocks it off in just 237 pages.

Picture This

August 10, 2016
by Lesley Glaister

Memo for Spring, Liz Lochhead’s debut collection of poems, won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award in 1972, the first in a succession of awards and honours to follow her down the years.

EVA: Six Poems

August 10, 2016
by Michel Faber

Like a pet that comes in wet and muddy,fur matted with adventure, you return,bright-eyed and wild, from your nocturnal jaunt.


August 9, 2016
by David Black

It seems metaphysically appropriate that Edinburgh, a city riven by an urban duality, should have had two singular and very different golden ages, as well as two distinct architectural personalities.

The Shock of the Old

August 10, 2016
by Tiffany Jenkins


No Statues to Critics

August 10, 2016
by Joseph Farrell

The late Robert David MacDonald, director, playwright, translator and one of the trio who ran the Citizens’ Theatre in the days which have already receded into myth, liked to say that they do not erect statues to critics. And indeed they do not, but critics play their part in having statues erected...

A Question of Trust

August 10, 2016
by Dani Garavelli

Though the blurb describes James Robertson’s To Be Continued as a madcap adventure, I turned over the first page with all the gaiety of a blobfish caught in a trawler’s net. Its main character, Douglas Findhorn Elder, is a middle-aged journalist in the grip of an existential crisis brought on by...


August 9, 2016
by Alan Taylor

Not so long ago, if the hype was to be believed, the book was doomed. Jeremiahs joyfully foretold of its imminent demise and imagined a paperless future in which trees could grow tall without fear of being hacked down, pulped and transformed into the Sun. Nor were book lovers any more sanguine. It...

Sweet and Sour

August 10, 2016
by Rosemary Goring

Jon Sigurdsson, a senior civil servant in Whitehall, begins the day in which this long novel takes place, trying to save a fledgling blackbird. It is a summer’s morning, shortly before seven, and he is attempting to disentangle it from the netting in his ex-wife’s garden. Trying to keep the little...

Road to Somewhere

August 10, 2016
by Todd McEwen

Murdo MacArthur loses his mother and sister within a short space of time. He and his Dad lead an increasingly silent life. Dad, in his grief, seems to Murdo like one big No. Dad loses track of Murdo, even though they’re in the same house. Forgets to give him pocket money.

Volume 11 – Issue 4 – Classifieds

August 16, 2016

PUBLISHER ADVERTISERS Classifieds contains listings of new titles and events. Advertisers in this section include: Angel’s Share – See Neil Wilson / Arena Sports – See Birlinn / Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS) – www.asls.org.uk / Birlinn Ltd – www.birlinn.co.uk / BC...