BURNS IN HIS TIME by ALAN DENT, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ELIZABETH CORSELLIS.
NELSON, First edition 1966. 9 inches tall, 162 pages.
"Alan Dents portrait of Robert Burns is set against a landscape of
Ayrshire as it was in the second half of the eighteenth century - the
harsh unfertile soil out of which the poet struggled hard to make a living
as a farmer. This writer certainly regards his central subject with a
measure of disesteem as well as the usual esteem, and from the very start
he shows no inclination whatever to join in the chorus of praise sung by
scots the wide world over on the theme of the national bard. At the same
time he condemns the sloth of the English reader, as distinct from the
Scottish, who persistently declines any attempt to understand the dialect
in which so many - and indeed the best - of the poems are written. Only
the undiscerning reader of Mr. Dents study will construe it as an attack
on the poet and his tremendous reputation. The author would prefer to have
it regarded as an attack on the poet’s uncritical idolaters. In support of
his theories he quotes copiously and points out that many of his citations
- in verse as well as prose - come from not easily accessible sources.
These are not the kind of things that are ever heard at burns suppers. But
Alan Dent does not expect his own views ever to be quoted at these same
assemblies of unquestioning worshippers."
Dent was born at
Maybole, Scotland, the ancient capital of Carrick, the southernmost area
of Ayrshire - the heart of Burns country.