Immortal Memory: Burns and the Scottish People

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Robert Burns was by far and away the most iconic figure in nineteenth-century Scotland. If Walter Scott imagined Scotland, Burns shaped it. Christopher Whatley describes the several contests there were to ‘own’ – and mould – Burns, from Tories through Radicals to middle-class urban improvers. But the Kirk condemned Burns as the Antichrist, deplored the Burns cult (‘Burnomania’) – a slur on a nation that prided itself on its strict Presbyterian inheritance. The result is a fascinating picture of the role Burns played after his death in shaping multiple facets of Scottish society.

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