Christopher Whyte

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gay & lesbian, gender, identity, interculturalism
Written and spoken word (criticism, poetry, prose, translation)
Europe, Western
Scotland (UK)
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December 16, 2007
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Christopher Whyte

ARTIST STATEMENT/ POSTCARD PROJECT OF THE HOUSE OF WORLD CULTURES 2007 ´Which narratives, real or imaginary, can best help with the task of bringing the two Europes, separated for nearly half a century by the Iron Curtain, close together once again? Has the time at last arrived when gay experience can be universalised? In other words, when the general reader (if such a reader still exists) can view the world through the fictional eyes of a gay man or woman without experiencing distrust or alienation?´ Interested in language as not only a means of expression but also a vehicle of culture, Christopher Whyte works with 12 European languages including Italian, Catalan and Hungarian. Born in Glasgow in Scotland in 1952 he completed his studies of Scottish literature at Cambridge University in 1973, spent a decade in Rome then returned to Scotland. As a poet, writer, critic and publisher he focuses on Scottish Gaelic, which is not his mother tongue.
Since 1987 he has been publishing and receiving awards for poetry in Gaelic like ‘Uirsgeul/ Myth’ (1991) and ‘An Tràth Duilich’ (2002). He has translated a lot of poetry and prose from German, Italian, Croatian, Catalonian and Gaelic into English; he has translated texts from Greek, Russian, German, Italian and Croatian into Gaelic; and he has translated others from Gaelic into Italian. He treats the translation of literature as a flow of information between cultures – a flow which draws attention to the relationship between nations like Scotland and England and to the relationship between the sexes. His writings about Scottish mythology and sexual orientation like ‘Gendering the Nation: Studies in Modern Scottish Literature’ (1995) have sparked off various debates in Scotland.

From 1990 to 2005 Whyte taught at the Institute for Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow and is currently living as an author in Budapest.
Author: House of World Cultures


Born in Glasgow in Scotland

Completion of studies at Pembroke College in Cambridge followed by lengthy stays in Italy and England

First poems in Gaelic: ‘An sgoilear a’ sealltainn air ais’ (‘The scholar looks back’)

Chair as a lecturer at Edinburgh University (English Department)

Publication of his first poetry collection ‘Uirsgeul / Myth’, crowned with the Saltire Award

Publication of his first novel ‘Euphemia MacFarrigle and the Laughing Virgin’

1996 – 2000
Stays in Spain; publication of the novel ‘The Cloud Machinery’

The Saltire award for his research into the Gaelic poet Somhairle MacGill-Eain/ Sorley MacLean

Stay and research in Transylvania

Since 2005
Life as an author in Budapest, Hungary


Selection of Works

Published Written
Contribution in: Bàrdachd na Roinn-Eòrpa an Gàidhlig/European Poetry in Gaelic, Gairm, 1990 (Ed.), An Aghaidh na Sìorraidheachd: Ochdnar Bhard Gaidhlig - Duanaire dà-chànanach/In the Face of Eternity - Eight Gaelic Poets: A Bilingual Anthology, Polygon, 1991 Uirsgeul/Myth, Gairm, 1991 Fourteen Italian Poets for the Twenty-first Century (with Marco Fazzini) Lines Review, 1994 Euphemia MacFarrigle and the Laughing Virgin, Gollancz, 1995 (Ed.) Gendering the Nation: Studies in Modern Scottish Literature, Edinburgh University Press, 1995 The Warlock of Strathearn, Gollancz, 1997 The Gay Decameron, Gollancz, 1998 L´escarabat xinès, Café Central, 2000 The Cloud Machinery, Gollancz, 2000 An Tràth Duilich/The Difficult Time, Diehard, 2002 (Ed.) Dàin do Eimhir/Poems to Eimhir, Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2002 (Ed.) Modern Scottish Poetry, Edinburgh University Press, 2004 ‘Twenty-one Collections for the Twenty-first Century’ in: Berthold Schoene ed. ‘Seeking for Continuities in MacDiarmid’s Poetry: Overcoming Fragmentation’, ‘The Poetry of Robert Garioch: More Ambition than Reduction’ and ‘The Gaelic Poetry of George Campbell Hay: Defence from Recent Strictures’ in Alba Literaria: a History of Scottish Literature ed. & introd. Marco Fazzini, Venice, Amos Edizioni, 2006, pp.487-504, 533-553 & 565-576; ‘Sorley MacLean’s Dàin do Eimhir: New Light from the Aberdeen Holdings’ in Michel Byrne, Thomas Owen Clancy & Sheila Kidd eds Litreachas & Eachdraidh: Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 2 Glaschu 2002 / Literature & History: Papers from the Second Conference of Scottish Gaelic Studies Glasgow 2002, Glasgow, Roinn na Ceiltis), 2006, pp.183-199; ‘Sorley MacLean’s “An Cuilithinn”: the emergence of the text’ in Wilson McLeod, James E. Fraser & Anja Gunderloch eds Cànan & Cultar/ Language & Culture: Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 3,Edinburgh, Dunedin Academic Press, 2006, pp.111-128; ‘Cultural Catalysts: Sorley MacLean and George Campbell Hay’ in Ian Brown, Thomas Clancy, Murray Pittock & Susan Manning eds The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, Vol.3, 2006, pp.151-162; ‘“L’autunno è il miracolo”: i diari di guerra di Manent e Márai’ in Bianca Tarozzi a cura di Giornate particolari: Diari, memorie e cronache, Verona, Ombre corte, 2006, pp.261-275; ‘Reasons for Crossing: European Poetry in Gaelic’ in R.D.S. Jack & Tom Hubbard eds Scotland in Europe, Amsterdam and New York, Rhodopi, 2006, pp.73-88; ‘Do Pier Paolo Pasolini’ (long poem in Gaelic with English translation by Niall O’Gallagher) in Making Soup in a Storm: New Writing Scotland 24, Glasgow, Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2006, pp.106-115; ‘Aig uaigh nach eil ann’ (Gaelic only) in An Gath 6 (An Geamhradh), 2006, pp.12-16; ‘An dèidh dhomh èisteachd ri ceòl Steve Reich, aig an Zeneakadémia ann am Pest, san Dàmhair 2003’, ‘Cha tèid iad fada às mo chuimhn’’, ‘’S mi smaointinn air na tha de mhairbh agam’, ‘Boireannach air an tràigh’ (Gaelic only) in Rody Gorman ed. An Guth 4, 2006, pp.170-179; ‘Extending the Canon: Three Eighteenth-Century Poets’ in Joris Duytschaever & Frank Matton eds Flemish, Scottish and other European Minority Literatures: Canon-formation and Nationalism, Maastrickt, Shaker Publishing, 2005, pp.49-64; ‘MacLean and Modernism: “Remembered Harmonies”’ in John M. Kirk & Dónall P. Ó Baoill eds Legislation, Literature and Sociolinguistics: Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Scotland (Belfast Studies in Language, Culture and Politics 13), 2005, pp.86-102; ‘Un llibre no escrit: In Memoriam Maria-Mercè Marçal 11.XI.1952 - 5.VII.1998’’ in La mirada estrangera , Barcelona, Edicions Proa, 2005, pp.352-359; ‘Bevezetés a skót irodalomba’ (‘An introduction to Scottish Literature’), 68 page section in Korunk 10 (October 2005), 2005, pp.3-6; ‘Cromaidh tu, aingil, do cheann’, ‘Dealbh Athar’ & ‘An do chuireadh crìoch air an taisbeanadh’ (Gaelic only) in Rody Gorman ed. An Guth 3, Dublin, Coiscéim, 2005, pp.190-197; ‘Cromaidh tu, aingil, do cheann’ & ‘Ruigidh tu oir na h-uaigh gun aideachadh’ (Gaelic only) in An Gath 4, Geamhradh, 2005, pp.60-61; Translations of poems by Gyula Illyés, Ágnes Nemes Nagy, István Baka, László Lator, Zsuzsa Takács, Zsófia Balla, György Petri and Krisztina Tóth in István Turczi ed. At the End of the Broken Bridge: XXV Hungarian Poems 1978-2002, Edinburgh and Manchester, Scottish Poetry Library and Carcanet, 2005 The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Literature, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2007, pp.59-67; ‘Confessions of a Chinese Beetle or, Reflections on Writing Poetry in Gaelic in the Twenty-First Century’ and ‘Interviews with Ruaraidh MacThòmais’ in Sheila Kidd ed. Glasgow: Baile Mòr nan Gàidheal / City of the Gaels, Glasgow, Roinn na Ceiltis Oilthigh Ghlaschu, 2007, pp.228-238, 239-294; ‘Derick Thomson: the Recent Poetry’ in Michel Byrne, Thomas Owen Clancy & Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh eds Aiste: Rannsachadh air Litreachas Gàidhlig / Studies in Gaelic Literature 1 ‘Centenary Essays on Gaelic Literature’, 2007, pp.22-37; ‘Ceum air cheum’) in Liz Niven & Brian Whittingham eds The Dynamics of Balsa: New Writing Scotland 25, Glasgow, Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2007, pp.151-173; ‘Trì dàin’ (‘Na dèan gluasad sam bith’, ‘Nach adhbhar iongnaidh sin’ & ‘Chuir iad ann an teagamh, a rèir choltais’) (poems, Gaelic only) in An Gath 7 (An t-Earrach), 2007, pp.14-19; ‘Teicheadh bho chànain ann an cànain eile’ in An Gath 8 (An Samhradh), 2007, pp.42-45 Translations of poems by Joan Vinyoli, Pere Gimferrer, Damià Huguet, Feliu Formosa, Margalida Pons, Jordi Sarsanedas, Teresa Pascual, Manuel Forcano, Miquel Martí I Pol, M. Josep Escrivà and Miquel Bauça in Iolanda Pelegrí with Anna Crowe eds Light Off Water: XXV Catalan Poems 1978-2002. Edinburgh and Manchester, Scottish Poetry Library and Carcanet), 2007


Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award
Scottish Arts Council Book Award
Scottish Arts Council Writer´s Bursary
Scottish Arts Council Book Award
Saltire Society/National Library of Scotland Research Book of the Year
Scottish Arts Council Writer´s Bursary


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Postcard Project

(01 March 07 - 31 December 08)