In the early years of the Second World War an army officer is sent to the Faroe Islands to investigate rumours of a collaboration with the Nazi regime in Norway. What he finds changes lives, not least his own. No one who reads this book will forget the frozen corpse tied to a chair in an icehouse guarded by two drunken seamen, or the raging storm which batters their, ship as they carry the body to Shetland. That’s just the beginning.
A hitherto unknown pornographic manuscript of Robert Burns is found in the effects of a dead schoolmaster of impeccable reputation. Max Arbuthnot, an Edinburgh lawyer and a rich man, who at the age of sixty has a rampant appetite for the pleasures of the flesh, takes charge of it. As the manuscript is lost, found again, stolen, and variously shuttles back and forth, the infection of its bawdiness creates havoc in Edinburgh. It's ultimate fate is only decided after a series of bizarre adventures.
Eric Linklater's brilliant novel tells the story of a double existence. Evan Gaffikin, 60ish, grumpy, and bored with his dull commercial success, discovers and develops his power to dream: to dream in such depth and in such glowing reality that he is able to escape his extraordinary existence. We learn of his double life as scenes from Gaffikin's real life alternate with his surrealistic, vivid, and often hilariously bawdy forays into the world of unreality. As his dream-world and its remarkable characters, gradually get the upper hand, the tension of the novel rises and the climactic sequence - in a yacht off the Hebrides - is mysterious and exciting.
Eric Linklater was one of the most respected and prolific Scottish writers of this century, yet more than twenty-five years have passed since his last collection of short stories was published. This selection covers Linklater's entire writing life. The settings are as various as the places where he lived - Orkney, India, California, Edinburgh and the Highlands - the events that take place, both fantastic and sensual in their depiction. A strong seam of Scottish history and culture runs through much of Linklater's work.
Edward Balintore is the archetypal television personality: big, loud, and assertive, given to reactionary sentiments and fits of explosive anger. In a 'depth' interview before the cameras he is driven to admitting a fear 'of being found out' and collapses with what the doctors call overstrain and nervous tension. Accompanied by his Watson or Sancho Panza, Guy Palladis, an elegant, detached, and well-connected young man, he sets out on a long and varied quest for peace and an earthly paradise.
The Next Great War begins, and soon all Europe is involved. The war lasts a year - and then the women, robbed of husbands and sweethearts and sons, grow doubtful of the benefits of military policy, and begin to think that victory will come too late to do them any good. But what can they do? A remedy was discovered by Aristophanes about 2,350 years ago. It is re-discovered and reapplied. And it is again successful.
"When the giants fell, old bones revived" - there is the rubric for Eric Linklater's new story. There may be no historical foundation for his tale of a fantastic war, in the First century A.D., between the giant Furbister and the abominable Od McGammon, his neighbour in the south-west of Scotland; but their quarrel - which provides a background to the engaging love-story of the willful poet Albyn and the delightful Princess Liss - has a real enough interest and no small significance in our equally strange world of today.