Between Literary Idealisation and Historical Decline
A Study of the Highlander in Literature from the Year 1827
By 1827, the destruction of the clan system, the Highland clearances and the commercialisation of the Highlands has by large left the traditional Highland way of life a thing of the past. Nevertheless, the Highlander reappears in the late 18th and early 19th century as an increasingly dominant literary figure. Addressing the discrepancy between the historical Highlander and the literary figure, the Highlander is identified as a multifaceted figure ranging from romantic idealisation to necessary decline. In this article, it is argued that the combination of the assimilation of the actual Highlanders, the centrality of the Highlander as a military hero fighting in British service and the rise of the Highlander as an idealised literary figure is what renders the elevation of the Highlander to national symbol possible.
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