Saturday, 16 November 2013

st kildan myths

From Roger Hutchinson's review of Donald S Murray's The Guga Stone (a collection of pieces on St Kilda):
'Donald Murray rightly points up the absurdity of the authors of the two most popular modern St Kildan books, Tom Steel and Charles Maclean, in blaming the Protestant Church for destroying St Kildan culture and ultimately St Kildan society.
'Steel and Maclean are able to perpetrate that fiction chiefly because neither they nor most of their readers know much about Protestant - or any other - Hebridean islands. If Presbyterianism destroyed St Kilda, why is Catholic Mingulay not still thriving? If Presbyterianism destroyed St Kilda, how did Scalpay survive?
'Those authors, those storytellers, were actively looking for a mythology. They had discovered a founding myth. They needed a final myth to explain the evacuation of 1930. And in between, myth became woven with reality into the rough fabric of life on Hirta, Boreray and Soay.'
'The island's famous "Parliament" is another source of profound symbolism. ("There was one of those in our village on Lewis too," writes Murray, "which met and quarrelled on occasion. We gave it the considerably less grandiose title of the Grazings Committee.")'