Alasdair Gray, Lanark

Niall O’ Gallagher (University of Glasgow)
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Alasdair Gray’s first novel


is one of the major Scottish novels of the twentieth century and a significant contribution to the traditions of surreal and dystopian fiction.


is many things. It is at once a “portrait of the artist as a young Glaswegian” and an exploration of the social world of capitalism and imperialism in a recognisable industrial

city of the 1950s and 1960s. Though arguably less concerned with specifically Scottish politics than with the general social malaise of late capitalism and economic imperialism, it is an inescapably political novel, with a focus on the potential for emancipation from the social and political constraints on individual freedom which has been central to Gray’s artistic and political project ever since. It is a novel that revels…

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Citation: O’ Gallagher, Niall. "Lanark". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 October 2010 [, accessed 15 April 2024.]

4127 Lanark 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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