WILLIAM MCILVANNEY THE FATHER OF TARTAN NOIR

William McIlvanney started the famous Scottish writer, poet and short story writer bid adieu to the world on 5 Dec 2015. He started his career as a English teacher. His novels Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch, and Walking Wounded explored the life and landscape of Glasgow of 1970s. He being the child of swinging 60s explored on his writing style and narration.

He is known for his tartan noir style. Remedy is None, he published in 1966 which fetched him Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize of 1967. His next novel Docherty (1975), he portrayed a miner’s life full of courage and endurance during the depression it won him Whitbread Novel Award.

In 1985 he came up with The Big Man – the story of unemployed man Dan Scoular,a bare-knuckle fighter. His novels feature typical McIlvanney characters – tough, often violent, men locked in a struggle with their own nature and background.

His (1996) novel The Kiln tells the story of Tam Docherty. It won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award.

William McIlvanney released two poetry collections in 1970, The Longships in Harbour: Poems and Surviving the Shipwreck in 1991.  McIlvanney wrote a screenplay based for his short story “Dreaming” from Walking Wounded in 1989, it won a BAFTA.

McIlvanney’s turned internet savvy and published on his own website since April 2013. He penned many articles on various topics from personal to political, social and fiction.

The peculiar this we find in his novels is the action in background and no long conversations like classical detective fiction, nor does it turn to conventional Scottish style. The vernacular is subtle in inverted commas. McIlvanney used ‘style indirect libre’ to blur the boundaries of third person narration and monologue of his character.  He used it between the complex sentence and the anxious reporting.  He carefully worked upon signifier and signified to construct meaning in his work to achieve the level of truth. Fortunately all McIlvanney’s characters are good readers. His anti-heroes characters get engaged in world around them. They never that event at face value, decode it to make sense for themselves and their reader.

McIlvanney had a special affection towards Glasgow. He observed the city for its micro and macro details of life. He exposed the political and public spaces.  The portrayal of smoke-filled bars, newspaper stands, public buses, cheap hotel lobbies, dark street corners, empty parkland and dimly-lit night clubs occupied the background of his writing. It all seemed like a labyrinth or Dedalus.

McIlvanney’s writing reflects Scottish Socialist Realism. I experienced the Scottish landscape and mojo of their lifestyle while reading his novels. I wish you all read at least his one novel of your choice. I am sure it will be an intellectual treat to you.

Published by Rahul Mate

Passionate about cinema, fine art, literature and photography, Rahul Mate explores latest development from the world of arts and culture.

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