I first read this book at school for my Higher English and owing to the great pleasure I gained from it, went on to read other works by Lewis Grassic Gibbon; especially the remaining two books of this trilogy. Sunset Song poses the question: Is the present really ever independent of the past and future? Grassic Gibbon achieves this all too subtly. The book follows the farming calendar, although not in the period of a single year, and parallels the same to the life of the main character Chris. The circular theme is continued through the use of symbolism throught the book. Characterisation provides a great insight into the life of a rural community as it approaches World War I. The competing factions in the village can be seen as symbolic of the competing factions of Scotland at the time. The book develops and so does the demand to create a modern village, dependant on machinery and modern methods of farming. In the end the obvious, although after reading the novel many feel the wrong, result is reached and Kinraddie moves to the future. However, the book does not end in the gloom that may be perceived by some. The last chapter of the book, finally closing the circle of time created by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, is one of hope and although reflective and, at times, emotional, never looks back to lament for those things that have gone. Through the erection of the war memorial in the middle of a stone circle, the village symbolically places the past at the centre of its world but does not lament. The ending provides yet another new beginning in the life of Chris and I would highly recommend reading the two final parts of the trilogy. A book of great insight and exceptionally thought provoking.
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