LANARK is a novel of splits. Much of Alasdair Gray’s work is occupied by dualism; be itwithin a character, inherent to the narrative, or drawn clearly in his visual art, his work often exists in its opposing balances. Lanark is also complicated by its parts being strewn about within its cover’s confines: Books One and Two are encased by Books Four and Three. The novel in its duality and fragmentation tries, in part, to illustrate what it means to be a Scottish subject in the mid to late twentieth century, both in the harsh and often dull reality of Scottish life as depicted by Duncan Thaw in books One and Two, as well as Lanark’s often hideous, splintered dystopian mirror in books Three and Four. Lanark is an (arguably) postmodern science fiction bildungsroman, edified by and aware of canonical history, but choosing to question and subvert it at every opportunity. Although it can be argued, and Gray himself argues against it (Böhnke 45). Despite its being his magnum opus and a narrative of huge implication and proportion, it is a comely example of Lyotard’s petits récits (Lyotard 41) as Lanark/Duncan Thaw, and Lanark itself, are representations of a historically and politically marginalized culture at a specific moment in time and literary style. The novel is also an expression of many trappings of literary postmodernism with narratological and formatting fragmentation, narrative framing, the breaking of the fourth wall, an index of plagiarisms, amongst others. It is a long, dense book. It is the sort of book that one could write a book on. Instead, being more limited in space, (this text) will choose moments in the text to x-ray, exposing bits of bone, guts or machinery in the bodies and spaces that comprise the whole.
Smith, Julianne, "The Unlovely: Disease, Consumption and Sex in Alasdair Gray's Lanark" (2012). Honors Projects Overview. 63.
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