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The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History
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The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  23 ratings  ·  4 reviews
This book argues that while Anglo-Saxon culture has given rise to virtually no myths at all, myth has played a central role in the historical development of Scottish identity. Hugh Trevor-Roper explores three myths across 400 years of Scottish history: the political myth of the “ancient constitution” of Scotland; the literary myth, including Walter Scott as well as Ossian ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 16th 2008 by Yale University Press
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Matt Kelland
I first read the two essays on kilts as part of The Invention of Tradition in my university days. It's no lie to say that they were key to changing my view on the world. For the first time I understood how people's culture defines them, and how they choose to define their culture. It was a breakthrough moment in my academic life. This book expands on that theme, and shows how the Scots also attempted to invent a literary and political history that plays to their romantic and glorious ideals. Tre ...more
I found this book entertaining. I enjoyed Trevor-Roper's moments of sarcasm such as his comment that the campaign against Napoleon was no doubt won because the Highlander regiments wore kilts. I envisioned Hugh Laurie speaking lines such as that one and chortled.

On the other hand, I'd imagine that many readers would not be best pleased by an English author debunking Scottish history and culture. Like most Englishmen, he fails to distinguish between an inhabitant of Scotland and a bottle of whisk
I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did and ended up skimming large portions of it. The premise of how three mythical origins of Scotland and Scottish history--the ancient constitution, the ancient epic poetry of Ossian and the authentic kilts of the various clans--were not based in fact but invented over the years to promote national pride and heritage was intriguing, but the writing is very dry and pedantic. I did not realize this book was published posthumously. Perhaps if the author had ...more
In all honesty I found the author's writing to be both patronising and overly harsh on Scottish culture as a whole. The Scottish nation possesses a strong identity and much of that identity does come from its mythology which is a whole history in its own right. Is that wrong? Hugh Trevor-Roper seems to think so. If you're looking for a perhaps controversial take on Scottish identity then it's worth a read as it does successfully provide a different angle but beware of the writer's sharp tongue!
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