Dissecting Glasgow: Alasdair Gray's Poor Things
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Poor Things is, to a large extent, concerned with the representation of the city of Glasgow during its year as European City of Culture. The novel not only shows that there is more to the Victorian era than is evoked by the conservative propaganda of those years, but also suggests that there is more to Glaswegian culture than that which was marketed during 1990. In this paper I will analyse the three main narratives that converge in Poor Things, each written from a distinct perspective and at different points in history, and the links they create between Victorian Glasgow and contemporary Glasgow. We will study how Gray uses multiple narrative perspectives and historical frames of reference to recontextualise contemporary political and ideological concerns within historical discourses, re-historicising the debate about contemporary Glasgow and making historiographic reconstruction a central feature of the whole novel. The paper will also explore how the author uses the history and the landscape of Glasgow to chart a new anatomy of the city, fashioning these images and ideals into a new mythography of Glasgow, against which the contemporary city can be measured.