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The Wealth of the Nation

Scotland, Culture and Independence

Cairns Craig

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A critical appraisal of Scotland’s cultural wealth and global distinction

The Wealth of the Nation explores how Scotland has continued to assert its distinctive cultural difference despite the three-hundred-year union with England and the modern forces of globalisation. Dealing with Scotland since the eighteenth century, the study analyses how Scottish culture defined itself within the British Empire and how, in the late twentieth century, it recovered from the collapse of the Empire to rebuild the value of its cultural past. Through its focus on the role of memory in philosophy, literature and the visual arts, readers will gain understanding of the influence that modern Scottish writers and artists have had on contemporary Scottish nationalism. The book argues that political nationalism in modern Scotland is founded on a cultural revival that began in the 1950s and 60s but gained momentum from resistance to the outcome of the 1979 devolution referendum. That resistance, and the creative achievements which it generated, provoked a re-examination of the nation’s cultural history, revealing a wealth previously denied or forgotten.


Introduction: The Wealth of the Nation
1. Cultural Capital and the Xeniteian Empire
2. In the Race of History
3. Living Memory: Nostalgia, Necromancy and Nostophobia
4. Theoxenia: Invitations to the Gods
Conclusion: Unsettled Will

About the Author

Cairns Craig is Director of the AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen. His books include Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry (1982), Out of History (1996), The Modern Scottish Novel (1999), Associationism and the Literary Imagination (2007). He was general editor of the four-volume History of Scottish Literature (1987-9) and has been on the editorial boards of Cencrastus, Radical Scotland, Edinburgh Review and the Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies.


The Wealth of the Nation provides an abundance of historical detail and is a valuable and highly readable text.

- Richard Barlow, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Scottish Literary Review

'The Wealth of the Nation presents an astonishingly rich tapestry of cultural, intellectual, literary and political history. At once absorbing and instructive, this tour de force recasts the influence and meaning of Scotland in the modern world. An undertaking this grand in scale requires a scholar of Craig’s singular gifts.'

- Matthew Wickman, Brigham Young University

'Cairns Craig’s adventurous and learned arguments always pivot our understanding of Scotland’s pasts and futures. The Wealth of the Nation engages literature, history, economics and politics to offer cogent support for culture as community and happiness as the wealth of the nation. This is a lesson still to be learned—far beyond Scotland.'

- Caroline McCracken-Flesher, University of Wyoming

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