A member brought my attention to a recent article in the Glenkens Gazette titled ‘The More things change the More they stay the same’ in which Professor Ted Cowan wrote: ‘Ironically as folk were fleeing the countryside urban dwellers were increasingly sentimentalising it. There had long been an assumption that rurality equated with healthy living, innocence, nature and love of landscape while the cities were smoky dens of crime, temptation and brutality. One writer who nurtured such notions was our own S.R.Crockett, an accomplished novelist, but one who shamelessly romanticised Galloway, and the Glenkens in particular.’
I take issue with this view (though I’m happy to discuss it!) My response is as follows: It’s good to see S.R.Crockett acknowledged as ‘an accomplished writer’ but the suggestion that he ‘nurtured’ the erroneous views of urban dwellers by ‘shamelessly romanticising Galloway and the Glenkens in particular’ is something of a simplification.
I know I am not alone in finding in Crockett’s Galloway works realistic portrayals of rural community life, ‘warts and all’ as well as an abundance of Scots humour through which he delivers some insightful and quite biting criticisms of hierarchy, power and privilege within Scottish society.
Perhaps Professor Cowan has not read Strong Mac, The Moss Troopers or Silver Sand recently? Or perhaps I am a shameless romantic myself? To my reading these (and other) works offer quite insightful commentaries about a number of the country/rural issues Prof Cowan raises.
Writing in the Scots Romance style may be described as ‘romanticising’ but I find no shame in his masterly use of it. There is more than enough rural realism in Crockett if the reader cares to find it. If we claim Crockett as ‘our own’, perhaps it’s about time we started reading him more deeply and taking pride in his achievements rather than following a well worn path which in essence regurgitates the erroneous views of the city towards the countryside – in which respect, sadly, the more things change the more they indeed stay the same.
I know that Crockett himself was well able to counter (with humour) such criticisms - his preface to Lad's Love amply shows that - and perhaps I can do no better than leave him to speak up for himself in the face of unwarranted criticism.
CLICK HERE. But since he's 'won awa'' I do feel it's worth those of us who value him, to defend him now he is no longer here to do so - at the very least by encouraging his disparagers to read his work with more clarity and open-mindedness.