The ‘Next Great War'
: Eric Linklater’s Responses to the Crises of the 1930s

  • Adam Gilbert

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Research (awarded by UHI)


By evaluating the significance of Eric Linklater’s literary responses to the crises of the 1930s, the thesis endeavours to make a valuable contribution to the understanding of a pivotal yet still misinterpreted period of history and to the appreciation of literature. It remedies the relative critical neglect of Linklater’s perceptive, diverse and witty thirties writing which reacted to a deteriorating international climate marked by political strife and an increase in conflicts leading to the nadir of the Second World War. The thesis reveals the depths of profundity beneath the often humorous surface of Linklater’s work, how his use of comedy is at times the most apt way to respond to the absurdity of totalitarianism and war, but at other points misses the mark, and how ultimately his writing had to become more earnest in order to express sincerely his growing moral outrage as the decade neared its terrible climax. The parallel shift Linklater undertook from being part of the Scottish Renaissance and a political Scottish nationalist in the early 1930s through a transitional period when he could be highly critical of Britain before finally committing himself to the British cause with the advent of WWII at the decade’s end is also determined. This evolution is contended to reflect Linklater’s authorial development and has a wider importance in charting the changing contemporary cultural and political climate, particularly but not exclusively in Scotland, as the approaching menace of WWII looms ever closer. The insights offered by his writing in response to the crises of 1930s and its literary merit prompt the thesis to argue for greater recognition of Eric Linklater as an outstanding Scottish and British author.
Date of Award12 Sept 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
SupervisorAlison Chand (Supervisor) & Ian Blyth (Supervisor)

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