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Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Sunset Song (1932)

by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A Scots Quair (1)

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4171535,985 (3.98)57
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» See also 57 mentions

English (14)  Swedish (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Had a hard time getting past the dialect. Maybe this should be an audio book. ( )
  sraelling | Dec 1, 2017 |
Grande ritmicità (Sprung Rhythm) della prosodia e una protagonista cui non si può che voler bene. Sentimentalismo. Amor di patria. La Scozia. La Grande Guerra che porta la Modernità e che cambia l'Aberdeenshire per sempre.

(La traduzione deve aver creato non pochi problemi, il ricorso a termini dialettali italiani non rende giustizia all'impasto Scots dell'originale.) ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
Why did I read it? Sunset Song is supposedly regarded as an important Scottish novel, and is (sometimes) studied in secondary schools, because it touches on important themes from the time period in which it is set. I thought I might enjoy it.

What is it about? Sunset Song follows the life of Chris(tine) Guthrie from arrival in Kinraddie (north-east of Scotland) as a young girl in the early 20th century. The Guthries' lease a croft, and we follow the fortunes of the Guthries, and other families in the rural community through to the end of the first world war.

What did I like? Very little. Kudos to the narrator, [Eileen McCallum, for her vocal skills, both as a speaker, and singer when required. Ms McCallum created unique voices for each character, and her Scots accent was such that the dialogue will still intelligible. If there had been a duller narrator, I might not have been able to finish the novel at all. The one star rating is entirely for Eileen McCallum.

The author used some very interesting, and unique similes.

What didn't I like? From the start, this novel strained to keep my attention. It opens with a description of every family within Kinraddie, and tells quite a bit of their history, some of which occurs after the novel's actual end, as I was later to learn. This opening section of the novel felt interminable. I kept waiting for some semblance of a plot, and, after quite some time, began to wonder if there was one, or if this was a collection of short stories.

The descriptions of people, and places seemed to stretch on, and on, too. I like rural settings, I like descriptions of rural places that can evoke a character of the land itself. Other authors manage this beautifully, and elegantly, without devoting paragraph, after paragraph to the description of a single character before relating their part in tale.

The inner thoughts of Chris were far from cheery, which is not a complaint in itself, but Chris's sombre, morbid musings were just too much to bear for this listener. I found myself turning the volume down, waiting a few minutes before turning the volume back up, and then hoping that there was movement in the time line. I don't think I missed much by doing this. I got quite depressed listening to these sections of inner dialogue, and there were too many of them in my opinion.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon constantly jumped forward in time, and then would proceed to reflect on the events between the last point at which he left the tale, and the point to which he had just jumped. Why not just progress in a linear fashion? I am of the opinion that nothing would have been lost in the telling by doing so. I have seen this time jump technique used to great effect in other novels, but, in Sunset Song, it was pointless.

Other thoughts: My sympathies go to any secondary student for whom Sunset Song is required reading.

I get it: There is no such thing as the rural idyll; it's a tough living. It is not necessary to cram your story with as many instances of human defect as you can recall into one novel.

Would I recommend it? No. Nor will I be reading the remaining two books in the trilogy, because I cannot face any more dark, depressing navel-gazing. ( )
  Sile | Jul 28, 2017 |
Book 1 of the trilogy A Scot’s Quair which is much revered in Scotland. Christine Gurthrie, the daughter of John Guthrie, a tenant farmer, lives at Blawearie farm, a smallholding at Kinraddie in Scotland post WW I. John Guthrie lives a life of ceaseless toil on the farm and rules his family with an iron hand. To the tenants of all the surrounding smallholdings, Scotland’s glorious history is as if it happened yesterday and the English are much detested. The language used may be puzzling but a small dictionary is provided. Surprisingly, I had little need of it for most of the terms were familiar to me since my ancestors came from Scotland to Canada in 1825. Christine has a love for the land; the wind off the sea, the standing stones that have seen so much, the horses that she feeds with bits of bread and jam, the honeysuckle in bloom, the reliance of neighbour on neighbour to bring in the harvest or till the fields. WW1 brings a heartbreaking end to Blawearie and Kinraddie. The dead still live on the land they loved in life and walk the hills, fields, and gaze upon the loch. This intense, absorbing book is very much in the style of the Canadian prairie classics, Who Has Seen the Wind (Mitchell), Fruits of the Earth (Walker), and Wolf Willow (Stegner). For those who live on the land, no explanation is needed to describe their love for the land and it’s creatures; for those who don’t, no explanation will suffice. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
I have just finished re-reading my favourite book, Sunset Song, probably for the fifth or sixth time. It’s a book I first read as a student in secondary school―hated―and then fell in love with.

The novel tells the story of Chris Guthrie. Born into a farming family in the north-east of Scotland as the 20th century begins. The ‘Song’ is divided into sections that follow the farming year and mirror Chris’s own life; The Unfurrowed Field, Ploughing, Drilling, Seed-time, Harvest and then, once again, The Unfurrowed Field.

Like many students I really struggled with the prelude to this book when I first read it as a teenager. It’s written very differently to the Song, without the strong first-person narrative. I’m pretty sure that I would have read this book as Something To Be Read For School (a chore) but there must have been some reason that I was left with a desire to read this book again at some point the future.

Each time I have read the book as an adult I have been struck by different aspects of the story. With this most recent reading I was more aware of the pace of the story and struck by the small size of the geographical area in which it is set.

The language of the Song is unashamedly Scottish (or pseudo-Scottish) and agricultural — “education’s dirt and you’re better clear of it”. People are fine or course, from good stock or course stock. But the language also has a fine, delicate, poetry such as the example below.

“That died, and the Chris of the books and the dreams died with it, or you folded them up in their paper of tissue and laid them away by the dark, quiet corpse that was your childhood.”

And this expresses the theme of the book―nothing endures. Through Chris’s eyes we witness the end of a way of life, the end of the small tenant farmer and even the end of the land. ( )
  Craiglea | Mar 19, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis Grassic Gibbonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Crawford, ThomasForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Prelude: Kinraddie lands had been won by a Norman childe, Cospatric de Gondeshil, in the days of William the Lyon, when gryphons and such-like beasts still roamed the Scots countryside and folk would waken in their beds to hear the children screaming, with a great wolf-beast, come through the hide window, tearing at their throats.
Chapter I: Below and around where Chris Guthrie lay the June moors whispered and rustled and shook their cloaks, yellow with broom and powdered faintly with purple, that was the heather but not the full passion of its colour yet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0862411793, Paperback)

Divided between her love of the land and the harshness of farming life, young Chris Guthrie finally decides to stay in the rural community of her childhood. Yet World War I and the changes that follow make her a widow and mock the efforts of her youth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Young Chris Guthrie comes of age in the harsh landscape of northern Scotland, torn between her passion for the land, her duty to her family and her love of books, until the First World War begins and the landscape around her changes dramatically. The first novel in Gibbon's classic trilogy A Scots Quair, Sunset Song marks the emotional and political changes that history and the coming of industrialization brings to Chris and the small farming community to which she belongs. Gibbon's book blends Scots and English into an intense evocation of Scottish life in the early twentieth century." "In her introduction, Ali Smith discusses the language and tone of Sunset Song and the impact the book has had on modern literature. This edition also includes a chronology, maps, glossary, further reading and notes."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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