Book review: Arts and the Nation

What’s the Story?

Arts and the Nation evaluates the similarities and differences between Scottish and international writers, artists and composers. Recognising that there has been no recent overview of Scottish art and culture, this book fills in that gap – emphasising the importance and continuing relevance of Scottish arts on the international stage. The book, a collection of essays, seeks to set the arts of Scotland free from the misconceptions and neglect surrounding them. With an incredibly wide range of material, Arts and the Nation delivers brand new perspectives on both past and current cultural and political endeavour in Scotland. Spanning centuries, the writers present a critical and provocative re-examination of Scotland’s culture, what it has been, is, and what it might be in the future.


An intriguing insight into the lesser known and appreciated artists, writers and composers, Arts and the Nation not only educates but also fascinates readers. The book makes a strong argument for the requirement of the Scottish people to make an effort to understand their country’s history in a broader sense than they currently do and challenges the modern conventions and traditions of Scottish Culture, past and present.


It is difficult not to notice that the opinions being expressed come from three likeminded individuals. Not to say that the authors don’t make excellent cases regarding the appreciation and impact of all that Scotland has to offer, however to truly represent the overlooked arts in Scotland a wider pool of opinions (if only brief) may have painted a larger picture of the demand for the exposure of these subjects.


Anyone who enjoys the arts in Scotland will appreciate the credit and attention that is being given to lesser known Scottish talents. Even Scottish culture traditionalists won’t be able to help but admire the book’s charm and respect for the nation’s artistic triumphs and possible future accomplishments.

Click below to read a sample chapter

Arts and the Nation sample


This re-examining of Scottish culture certainly gives readers a great deal to reflect upon. Each essay handles its subject from a fresh perspective and seeks to clear up some of the misconceptions and to shed some light on the less celebrated aspects of Scotland’s artistic, musical and literary history. Arts and the Nation certainly challenges the convention of celebrated Scottish tradition.

Arts and the Nation: A Critical Re-Examination of Scottish Literature, Painting, Music and Culture, by Allan Riach, Alexander Moffatt and John Purser, published by Luath Press Ltd, £12.99.

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