Volume 02 Issue 4

The SRB Interview: Ismail Kadare

October 29, 2009

ISMAIL KADARE was born in Gijirokastër, Albania in 1936. He studied history and philology at the University of Tirana and later, once he had declared his intention to write fiction, at the Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow. The majority of his adult life and writing career took place during...

Volume 2 – Issue 4 – Editorial

October 29, 2009

RECENTLY a cage-rattling newspaper columnist predicted the demise of public libraries, deeming them past their sell-by date, irrelevant, costly, and as redundant as chimney-sweeps. Her argument – if we may dignify it as such – was twofold. First, fewer people appear to be using libraries. This...


October 29, 2009
by Alan Taylor

From Here to Toronto AT this year’s Tartan Week in New York Alastair Reid – poet, translator, essayist, constitutional exile, fellow Hearts sympathiser – was asked to read a favourite poem. His original choice, from a collection entitled Fuck Scot-land by Francis Gallagher, was not apparently...

When papers Mattered

October 29, 2009
by Harry Reid

WHEN THE YOUNG Glasgow solicitor and Scottish Nationalist Winnie Ewing won a spectacular victory at the Hamilton by-election in 1967, the Scottish press – then enjoying its last golden age – was, despite its entrenched unionism, ecstatic. Here was a genuine political sensation. The Daily Record...

North Briton

October 29, 2009
by Ian Bell

IN POLITICS, AS in real life, timing is everything. It would be overstating the case somewhat to claim that the world has been holding its breath for the publication of another bunch of mostly-routine speeches. Somewhere there is wet paint to watch, and an outside chance that hell might freeze over....

Behind Wicket Gate

October 29, 2009
by Ronald Frame

LAWRENCE JAMES’ The Middle Class announces its own significance before you’ve even opened it. It’s very, very solid, a big object: and, as we know, the middle-class (for such the book is about, title in large CAPS) like to get something for their money. Is it – another vital question – value...

Volume 2 – Issue 4 – New Poems – Liz Lochhead

October 29, 2009
by Liz Lochhead

Twenty One Year Old On our first night at Jura Lodge you say: ‘here’s a bottle of the Twenty One Year Old, hey Lizzie, let’s taste…’ and we toast – once we’ve managed to track two nip glasses down – ‘oh there they are,Tom – of course, my deah, on the decanter tray, mayhap, in the...

Ali’s Cave

October 29, 2009
by Brian Morton

A FRENCHMAN SAYS THAT there are ‘readerly’ texts and ‘writerly’ texts. Those in the first category are simply to be consumed and enjoyed; those in the second offer a little more resistance, insist on their status as texts or things made, perhaps deliver more sophisticated and demanding pleasures,...

Gene Genie

October 29, 2009
by Mario Conti

PROFESSOR SHEILA MCLEAN holds the International Bar Association Chair of Law and Ethics in Medicine at Glasgow University. Her new book, Modern Dilemmas: Choosing Children has been described as “written by an expert for experts”. It addresses from a jurisprudential angle some of the emerging questions...

Resurrecting Haig

October 29, 2009
by T. M. Devine

IT IS A TRUISM of history that reputations rise and fall with the changing values and prejudices of society. There can be few better examples of this axiom than the historical legacy of Field Marshal Douglas Haig, the Scot who led the British armies to final victory in the Great War. When he died at...

‘Honest Poverty’ and Agnes Owens at 70

October 29, 2009
by Alasdair Gray

POVERTY IS SO DEPRESSING that even the poor hate to be reminded of it, and most incomes which allow some spare-time, pleasure and independence – incomes Robert Burns called honest poverty – are earned by work that pleases the imagination so little that people of every social class are entertained...

Anyone Seen Rilke?

October 29, 2009
by Michael Schmidt

FOR DECADES, translators have protested when their names are omitted from the covers, title pages and reviews of their books. In Don Paterson’s Orpheus, translation records an almost unprecedented triumph, because Orpheus is identified by a note on the back cover as “A version of Rilke’s Die Sonette...

A Tale of Two Books

October 29, 2009
by Iain MacWhirter

I HAVE BEFORE ME two books of the same name. They are called Grasping The Thistle but they are very different works, the first being what Michael Russell and his co-author, businessman Dennis MacLeod, really wanted to publish, the second what a political party allowed them to publish. Now, normally,...

Scots Abroad

October 29, 2009
by Kenneth White

A COUNTRY IMPLIES A PHYSICAL background, a population, a cultural context, and a horizon of intention. At times, when, for various reasons things in the homeland get murky and mushy, or else trivial and twittery, it’s in the outlands that the horizon of intention is best represented and advanced....

Volume 2 – Issue 4 – Gallimaufry

October 29, 2009
by Lesley McDowell

Apollos Of The North – Selected Poems Of George Buchanan & Arthur Johnston Edited by Robert Crawford POLYGON, £14.99 pp154 ISBN 1904598811 What, one wonders, would George Buchanan and Arthur Johnston make of contemporary Scotland? Doubtless these two Renaissance poets would be as appalled as...