Creative Matters

Hunting Captain Henley: Finding Fascism in the Reflective Voice


  • Kenneth Pratt School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of The West of Scotland



Fascism, Journalism, Semi-fictional autobiography, Trauma


This paper explores how a reflective analysis of the literary structure of one’s own life writing can often lead to an exceptional intellectual discovery. The paper focuses on a particular narrative technique that developed during a journalistic investigation into the whereabouts of an English Army Captain who had allegedly bullied my dad in the British Army. Examples are drawn from a range of literary theorists and from the author’s own prose and critical evaluation. It is argued that the occupation of one language by another can generate a form of linguistic hyper-energy and from it the birth of what is described as Scotland’s Fascist Voice. Scots dialect’s uneasy alliance with Standard English in turn highlights Caledonian Antisyzygy, a term first coined by Gregory Smith in Scottish Literature: Character and Influence to spotlight the zigzag of contradictions at the heart of Scottish writing. The overall aim of the paper is to reveal a strong interdependence between literary theory and life writing.The subtext concludes that in isolation each offers restricted forms of expression, yet when blended can exhibit an independent intelligence free from the shackles of both conventional autobiography and traditional academic enquiry.

Author Biography

Kenneth Pratt, School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of The West of Scotland

Dr. Ken Pratt is Lecturer in Journalism at UWS (University of the West of Scotland). He was previously a news reporter and finalist at the Guardian International Development Journalism Awards for his disturbing reportage from DR Congo and Uganda. His work uses personal experiences to explore a hidden narrative behind the reporter’s prose. He received a Ph(D) from Glasgow University for his first novel Hunting Captain Henley, described by one Professor of Literature as being as good as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The book was selected by the American Comparative Literature Association for inclusion in its 2011 conference in Vancouver where it was described as “insightful and inspirational”.





Creative Matters