Open Access

Traumatized selves in Janice Galloway’s The Trick Is to Keep Breathing and A. L. Kennedy’s Night Geometry and the Garscadden Trains


This paper presents the case of Scotland as a traumatized nation haunted by ghosts of the past. Scottish national identity has been profoundly influenced by the country’s loss of sovereignty in the 1707 Act of Union. As a result, the stateless nation deprived of agency built its literature on the foundations of idealized stories of its heroic past. It was not until the 1980s that Scottish literature started to tackle the collective trauma and gave rise to works focusing on the weak and the exploited rather than the brave. Janice Galloway and A. L. Kennedy both epitomize this new vein of literature of trauma and explore the links between national and individual experience and strategies for healing the trauma.