Of foreigners and friends: music, art and militarism

Riach, A. (2018) Of foreigners and friends: music, art and militarism. In: Rosenthal, C., Volkmann, L. and Zagratzki, U. (eds.) Disrespected Neighbo(u)rs: Cultural Stereotypes in Literature and Film. Cambridge Scholars: Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 140-154. ISBN 9781527508682

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Publisher's URL: https://www.cambridgescholars.com/disrespected-neighbours


This chapter is structured in five sections. The first introduces clichés and caricatures as familiar methods of disrespecting neighbours and generating misapprehension, as opposed to the work of the arts, methods of enacting enquiries into cultural diversity and distinctiveness. The second considers the relation between the arts and militarism, in the theoretical contrast Hugh MacDiarmid draws between opposing forces in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and in the work of the Scottish composer and mercenary Tobias Hume in the 17th century, especially as depicted in Jerzy Peterkiewitz’s novel Loot and Loyalty (1955). This novel offers a singular opportunity to explore the ambiguous relations between musical composition, literary fiction and the priorities of military power. It also prompts us to trace the connection between the rediscovery and broadcasting by John Purser of distinctive traditions and examples of Scottish classical music which has taken place since the 1990s, and the revaluation of Polish history in the work of a modern Polish novelist and poet. Peterkiewitz’s novel connects Scotland and Poland in startling ways, and prophetically points forward, shockingly, to the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl. The arts here – in music and fiction, and in a poem based on the story Peterkiewitz tells – are emphatic justifications of human enquiry, rather than the foreclosures of fixed interpretations. They refute defined ‘otherness’ and demonstrate the value of shifting possibilities. The third section brings this out succinctly in a contrast in the rhetoric of then UK Chancellor George Osborne’s speech on the currency question in Edinburgh, on 13 February 2014 in the context of the approaching referendum of Scotland’s independence, and the poem ‘Two Thieves’ by Norman MacCaig. The fourth and fifth sections draw conclusions about the relation between the arts and the state and the arts and nationality. The ways in which ‘others’ may be identified as ‘foreigners’ and/or ‘friends’, disrespected or respected ‘neighbours’ form the final affirmations of the capacity of the arts to enact the intrinsic optimism of curiosity.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Riach, Professor Alan
Authors: Riach, A.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Publisher:Cambridge Scholars

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