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It's not just Guy Fawkes bonfires that light up November in the far North!

1st November 2006

Photograph of It's not just Guy Fawkes bonfires that light up November in the far North!

Saturday 4th November 2006
Scotia Review and Dunbeath Preservation Trust have joined forces for this year's 'Light in the North' celebration of the life and work of Dunbeath-born novelist Neil M. Gunn, whose birth-date (8th November) is the reason for the timing of the festival.

As well as Dairmid Gunn (Neil's nephew) and Kevin Crowe looking at two re-publications of Gunn's novels 'The Green Isle of the Great Deep' and 'The Shadow', the day will include a Story-telling with Bob Pegg in the fantastically atmospheric Salmon Bothy down at Dunbeath Harbour (it's got a stove, and lamps rather than electric light!). A ceilidh in Dunbeath Heritage Centre will include more from Bob Pegg, music from Chris & Peter Nichol, poetry from Donald Mackay and George Gunn, clarsach from Jennifer Ross, readings by members of the Scotia Review Writing Group and more!

Neil Gunn was a fantastic writer, a core contributor to the Scottish Literary Renaissance in the Twentieth Century - and currently under-valued in his home county. Re-reading these two novels for this weekend, I've been struck again by how ambitious Gunn was as an artist of his time, and yet how relevant his work is to us today, politically and socially, as well as historically and aesthetically. Despite the fact that he left Dunbeath as a very young man, the landscape and the people that breathe within his pages are recognisable to folk in the far North particularly, and the questions he asks have received no more testing examination in our day than he gave them in the late 1940's, when the issues of democracy versus totalitarianism were very much alive in people's minds.

As we wrestle with the rights of the individual and of multi-racial tensions in a culture shocked by the vulnerability of our Western tenets, few writers could make a more pressing demand to be read by folk trying to join up their thinking than one of our own: Neil Miller Gunn.

Come and find out more on 4th November. Stay for the day, if you can - we've found in the past people want to carry on chatting between events, and Dunbeath is a beautiful part of Caithness to spent a late Autumn day. Walk up the strath; stand by the river; search for the Hazelnuts of Knowledge and - factor notwithstanding - keep your eyes peeled for the Salmon of Wisdom. You'll never be the same again!

Check out the Scotia review website to read more: http://scotiareview.org
Christine Russell editor[AT]scotiareview.org

 

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