The Collected Works of Kenneth White, Volume 1

Underground to Otherground

Kenneth White
Edited by Cairns Craig

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These three books reflect the beginnings of one of the most radical and exhilarating figures in modern literature

Incandescent Limbo recounts White's years in Paris. Many a writer in the modern era had made Paris a focal point of his or her activity, but probably no one made more of it or got more out of it than Kenneth White. While exploring a labyrinthine underworld, the book is fundamentally an autoanalysis and traces the birth of the writer as an intellectual nomad.

Letters from Gourgounel takes us from the city to a wild part of south-eastern France, the Ardèche, where White undertakes a resourcing in an elementary context. Hailed in England as a 'fascinating curiosity of literature', this book not only made White famous overnight in France, it was seen there as a turning point in the contemporary situation.

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A Note on the Texts

Incandescent Limbo

Letters from the Guorgounel

Travels in the Drifting Dawn

Kenneth White was a Scottish poet, academic and writer. He published numerous works of poetry and prose, with volumes and essays in French as well as English. His work has also been translated into several languages.

He was the recipient of many awards and honours, in Europe and Scotland, including the Grand Prix du Rayonnement Français by the Académie française for his work as a whole (1985), the Édouard Glissant prize from the University of Paris VIII for his ‘openness to the cultures of the world’ (2004) and Prix de poésie Alain Bosquet for Les Archives du Littoral, a bilingual poetry collection (2011). White held honorary doctorates from the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh and the Open University and was an honorary member of the Royal Scottish Academy.

In 1989 he founded the International Institute of Geopoetics to promote further research into the cross-cultural, trans-disciplinary field of study which he had been developing during the previous decade. It has since produced six Cahiers de Géopoétique (journals) in French, publishing a range of work on geopoetics from throughout the world. Geopoetics Centres have since been set up in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Serbia, Quebec, New Caledonia and France.

His publications in English include, Ideas of Order at Cape Wrath (Aberdeen, 2013), The Wanderer and his Charts (Polygon, 2004), Open World: The Collected Poems 1960-2000 (Birlinn, 2003), House of Tides (Polygon, 2000). He lived on the north coast of Brittany.

Cairns Craig is Glucksman Professor Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen and previously Professor of Modern and Scottish Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He was the general editor of the four volume History of Scottish Literature published in 1987 by Aberdeen University Press. He has written extensively on modern poetry, on the history of Scottish culture and on the novel in Scotland. His monographs include Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry (1981), The Modern Scottish Novel (1999), Intending Scotland (2009), The Wealth of the Nation: Scotland, Culture and Independence (2018) and Muriel Spark, Existentialism and the Art of Death (2018). He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Academy.

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