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From Burns to Banks: tonight’s lecture looks at cities in Scots literature

February 9, 2011

Edinburgh and Glasgow’s countless appearances in Scotland’s literary canon will be the topic of debate at Edinburgh Napier University tonight.

Award-winning Scottish author James Robertson will examine the ways in which writers from Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott to Iain Banks, Alasdair Gray and Janice Galloway portray the cities in their work.

Mr Robertson said: “Many of Scotland’s great writers, from the age of Enlightenment to the 20th century, came from rural or island communities: they found cities alien and incomprehensible, even when their political sympathies lay with the mass of the populations that inhabited them. My Edinburgh Lecture will explore what this has meant for the representation of cities in Scottish literature, and how the relationship between writers and cities might develop in a post-industrial age.”

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convener, said: “From Stevenson’s depiction of the duality of Edinburgh in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, to Alasdair Gray’s re-imagined Glasgow in Lanark, Scotland’s cities have long provided inspiration to many of our greatest literary figures. It’s especially fitting to be exploring this topic here in Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. James Robertson is one of our most highly-regarded and interesting authors, and we can all look forward to a fascinating and thought-provoking Edinburgh Lecture tonight.”

James Robertson is the author of The Fanatic (2000), Joseph Knight (2004), The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006) and And the Land Lay Still (2010), which won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year award in 2010.

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