O. Douglas and the aesthetics of the Ordinary

Shields, Juliet (2016) O. Douglas and the aesthetics of the Ordinary. Scottish Literary Review, 8 (2). pp. 113-131. ISSN 1756-5634

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The novels of O. Douglas Anna Buchan have been overlooked by scholars of Scottish women's writing in part because of their apparent artlessness and simplicity. Yet their seeming artlessness represents a purposeful artistic choice. This essay contends that Douglas's novels develop an aesthetics of the ordinary by asserting the ethical value of mundane forms of beauty - a verdant garden, a becoming hat, a nicely laid table, or an apt metaphor. Douglas's aesthetic philosophy has religious and economic implications. Novels including Penny Plain (1920), Pink Sugar (1924), and The Proper Place (1926) challenge Free Church ambivalence towards the indulgence of aesthetic pleasure by representing everyday beauty as a source of happiness and moral amelioration. Douglas suggests that it is the responsibility of Scotland's affluent upper middle class to bring small beauties into the lives of the less fortunate, and to teach the lower middle class how to appreciate the pleasures such ordinary beauty affords. By offering their readers instances of everyday beauty, Douglas's novels participated in this educative process, helping to shape a formative middle-class Scottish identity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: O. Douglas, Anna Buchan, women’s writing, novel, religion, morality, aesthetics, esthetics, twentieth century, middle-class identity
Subjects: Q300 English studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2021 10:25
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2021 10:31
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/47462

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