Macbeth: Scotland's Past, Britain's Future

HOPKINS, Lisa (2017). Macbeth: Scotland's Past, Britain's Future. In: HARTLEY, Andrew, (ed.) Shakespeare and Contemporary Fiction. Cambridge University Press. (Submitted)

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Abstract

A. J. Hartley and David Hewson’s Macbeth: A Novel was published in 2012, the year in which it was agreed that a referendum on Scottish independence would be held. (The proposal having first been mooted in January, the Edinburgh Agreement was finally reached in October.) Hartley and Hewson’s book certainly looks at Macbeth, but it looks too at what it has meant to be Scottish in the past and also, by implication, glances at what it may mean to be Scottish in the future. In this Hartley and Hewson’s use of Macbeth has something in common with that of the late twentieth-century Scottish author Dorothy Dunnett, whose King Hereafter (1984), like her better-known Lymond and Niccolò chronicles, self-consciously positions itself as writing Scotland’s story in ways which draw on both Scottish literary tradition and Dunnett’s own quasi-public position as wife of the editor of The Scotsman; however, while Dunnett’s Macbeth is half-Norse with roots in Orkney as well as Caithness, Hartley and Hewson’s is a wholly Scottish figure who repels Viking invaders and considers himself a flag-bearer for a distinctively Scottish national identity with solidly established traditions and clearly defined territorial borders. In this essay, I examine these two very different uses of Macbeth alongside Lisa Klein’s Lady Macbeth’s Daughter and Susan Fraser King’s Lady Macbeth: A Novel and situate their cultural constructions of Scotland’s past, present, and possible futures within the broader history of appropriations of the play.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Humanities Research Centre
Depositing User: Lisa Hopkins
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2016 13:43
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2016 13:43
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11751

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