Hunting Captain Henley.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The term post traumatic stress is routinely used to describe the psychological experiences of
soldiers returning from war. It is used here to describe the effects it has on the families of PTS
victims, in particular children.
Hunting Captain Henley is a novel which explores the long term effects of a father’s post
traumatic stress on a son’s (intellectual) development. It tracks the progress of the narrator
from childhood to adulthood as he sets about tracking down the (English) Royal Signals
Captain who allegedly bullied his dad into shooting Arab civilians during the Ismaelia police
uprising at Suez in 1951. In his 1919 book Scottish Literature: Character and Influence G.
Gregory Smith first coined the phrase Caledonian Antisyzygy to spotlight the zigzag of
contradictions at the heart of Scottish Literature, especially under the stress of foreign (in
particular English) influence. The term has since been used to point at the schizophrenia at
the heart of Scottishness. The novel considers the dual influences of the English (language) on
Scottish writing and families.
As a prologue to the book a commentary is provided. Scotland’s Fascist Voice addresses the
unexplored area of the present-day fascist consciousness in Scotland. It does so by firstly
acknowledging Scotland’s role in the creation of the British Empire then delineates a
developing contemporary identity borne out of that imperial experience. It examines the
significance of The Raucle Tongue, hitherto uncollected prose by Hugh MacDiarmid, in
particular his Plea for a Scottish Fascism. The remaining chapters of the commentary explain
the significance of a form of cultural repression at work in Scottish society and showcase the
fascist style mindset and its incumbent voice. It is concluded that as both victims and
perpetators of Empire Scots must now acknowledge this duality of experience and carry forth
its impact on both our language and identity into the 21st century.
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