Source and activity 2: Notes for chapter nine
The writer's notes
View larger notes
Christopher Rush has said that his writing is a combination of memory and creative imagination but that he also finds inspiration from the work of other writers.
When talking about 'A twelvemonth and a day' Rush has said:
'I cannot define it as a novel, though it is novelistic; as an autobiography, though it is partly autobiographical; or as a documentary, though it contains documentation. Essentially it is an evocation of a vanished community, the old Fife which existed between the two wars in the silver age of the Scottish herring fishing.'
'The present book is an attempt to recreate the entire stained glass window from those few fragments which I have shored against my ruins'.
This image is a digitised version of Christopher Rush's draft notes for Chapter 9. They give you a glimpse into the author's thinking process before he sets out to write the chapter. It provides an insight into how he is piecing together elements from various sources.
You can say that it quite accurately reflects his quote above in attempting to'recreate the entire stained glass window from those few fragments'.
Many writers go through lengthy research or draft stages before they are satisfied with the end result. Christopher Rush has said that once his work is 'out there [in published form], it's solid, it's tangible'. These typed notes demonstrate the first steps to achieving that.
Questions for discussion
- Open the large image and read through the first paragraph of the notes. What are some themes Rush has picked out that will make up chapter 9?
- Read through the second paragraph 'Churchyard Memorials'. How are the words being associated with the imagery or themes from the previous paragraph? What does the use of biblical language add to the passage? Why do you think the author has chosen to draw on this?
- Read the 1843 poem and the inscription of the young women's gravestone erected by their parents. Pay attention to the tone and language used. What do you think the attitude towards death and indeed life during this period was?
- Read the inscription on Catherine J Laing's gravestone at the bottom of the page. Now try reading the inscription out loud and think about how it sounds when spoken. Is it full of anger? resignation? What sense does this give you about how this young woman's death was received?
- Lastly think about why the author has chosen to make use of all these elements. What would you keep or choose to use differently?
Literacy and English experiences and outcomes: LIT4-07a; LIT 4-09a; LIT 4-11a; LIT 4-14a; LIT4-15a; ENG 4-19a.
Christopher Rush in NLS collections
For information on how to access the Christopher Rush archive, see our Manuscripts enquiry page.
Ordnance Survey 1957 map of St Monans and surrounding area including the old railway line.
A wide collection of other xmaps of the East Neuk of Fife are also available to view on the Maps of Scotland sheet viewer.