Burns Nichts—that’s nights—were anathema to Hugh MacDiarmid:

[A]ll manner of essentially non-literary persons—ministers, schoolmasters, law lords, and what not—have, year in and year out, conspired to bury Burns under an ever-increasing cairn of the most ludicrous and inapposite eulogy. The enormities of praise that have been heaped upon him beggar description.

True enough. Yet MacDiarmid liked Robert Burns. The poet’s animus was directed not at “the mere man and his uninteresting love affairs,” but at the Burns movement, whose tendency for gross sentimentalization and “puerile and platitudinous doggerel” was as much a cause for concern as its failure “to get Burns or Scottish literature or Scottish history or the Scots language . . . taught in Scottish...

 

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