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Daiches, David
A Wee Dram - Drinking Scenes from Scottish Literature

Andre Deutsch, ISBN 0-233-98602-2, First Published 1990, 200 Pages, 25,5 x 19 cm, Hard Cover

'A toast to civilization's' how David Daiches describes whisky, Scotland's uisge beatha, or water of life. It is, in addition, the source of inspiration for many of her greatest writers, a fast to which this masterly anthology of Scottish literature bears witness.

Whenever, wherever and for whatever reason Scotsmen and women gather together there is the native drink: at homecomings and goings, weddings, christenings and wakes, in officers' mess or public bar. It is in celebration of the richness of this Tradition, of the songs, poems, folklore, anecdotes, and commentaries it spawns, that David Daiches has brought together these literary fruits of the Scottish imagination.

The selection blends the historical and the modern. In the fifteenth century Robert Henryson opened his great narrative poem, The Testament of Cresseid by describing how he settled himself down with a drink to comfort his spirits. And where Henryson led, other writers have happily followed. James Boswell (1740-95) confides to his diary the secrets of convivial evenings; a 'Highland lady' recalls the time-honored practice of offering and receiving whisky in the rounds of rural hospitality; Dean Ramsay tells an astonishing anecdote on the results of a nineteenth-century drinking spree, or how a funeral came to be conducted without a body. And life in the 1980s is represented by examples from the 'new realist' school of Scottish fiction, in which sketches of Glasgow working-class life are depicted in grim clarity.

Illustrated throughout, the collection can be savored for its romance, nostalgia, hilarity and Tradition. Not so much a wee dram, it is sixty-four sparkling draughts from the wellspring of Scottish literature.

 

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