The Other Landscape

The Other Landscape

Neil M. Gunn

  • Foreword by Dairmid Gunn
  • Classic Scottish fiction
  • Gunn's last novel and a contemplation of life, death and tragedies that inexplicably occur


Print edition: £9.99
198 x 127mm
c 288 pages
July 2024

Neil M Gunn, one of Scotland’s most distinguished 20th century authors, wrote over a period of 30 years, starting in 1926 and ending in 1956 with his so-called spiritual autobiography The Atom of Delight. Two years before this he wrote his last novel, The Other Landscape, the setting being the east coast of Scotland’s most northerly mainland county. This provides the perfect backdrop – a fishing hotel and its English residents, the local ghillies who served them, and a solitary white house near the cliffs in which the occupant, a man from the South, lives alone.

Add to this the Major, a retired military officer-cum-diplomat, who quickly shows himself to be an insensitive and overbearing man, disdainful of his fellows and aggressive towards those who challenge his views or show any form of disrespect towards him. His paternalistic behaviour towards the local community masks a contempt for it. Life in the hotel is lightened on a more mundane level by two incidents, both directly relating to the Major – a false alarm over a drowning incident and a fire in his bedroom, both of which end happily, but with a damaging loss of face for the Major and much amusement for the guests and staff at the hotel.

Juxtaposed with the sporting life at the hotel, and in a subtle way connected to it, is the fate of the solitary and bereaved occupant of the white house. The shadow of death, both present and past, hangs over the house and blends with the palette of second sight and the strong phenomenon of ‘recurrence’, when patterns of events inexplicably repeat themselves. The reader is thus invited to consider the realities of life and death and the inherent tragedies that are contained within them, but in the end is presented with a glimpse of hope and renewal.

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