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The Scottish School (Skota Skolo) of Esperanto Writers - John Sharp Dinwoodie

Geoffrey Sutton)
© Copyright Geoffrey Sutton 2009
(Reproduced on This Site by Permission of the Author)

John Sharp Dinwoodie (1904 - 1980)

[photo of Wiliam Auld]
Scottish pastor; classicalist. Dinwoodie contributed to the cultural Esperanto periodicals Literatura Mondo [Literary World], to 1949, and Monda Kulturo [World Culture] (1962-6), and to Esperanto en Skotlando [Esperanto in Scotland]. He collaborated in the production of the first volume of Angla Antologio [English Anthology] (1957), and was the first editor of Skota Antologio [Scottish Anthology] (1978). Dinwoodie wrote poetry, short stories and reviews, and was a highly competent and prolific translator, particularly of Scottish poetry. However, his contributions to Esperanto literature did not last long. He did not collaborate in the second volume of Angla Antologio as he was obliged to give up his literary interests for the sake of his pastoral duties - a difficult personal decision that was a true sacrifice.

The publication of the volume of poetry Kvaropo [Foursome] in 1952 marked Dinwoodie's debut in book form, with three other outstanding poets: William Auld (1924-2006), John Francis (born 1924) and Reto Rossetti (1909-94), who consciously formed the Skota Skolo (Scottish School) of Esperanto writers.

Tazio Carlevaro (in the reference work Esperanto en Perspektivo (1974), p. 169) perceives a delicate spiritual quality in Dinwoodie's lyricism. His themes are his love for his wife and compassion for sinners, the origin of whose sins he detects mainly in prevailing social conditions. The solution to the spiritual torments of the time are found by Dinwoodie in God and his religious belief as a Christian.

Another of Dinwoodie's themes is nature. Georgi Mihalkov, in his essay on nature in Esperanto poetry, comments (in Beletraj Eseoj [Essays in Belles-Lettres] (1987), p. 28): The landscapes in Dinwoodie's poems are majestic, although somewhat abstract. In them we do not feel the aroma of flowering trees as in the poems of Dresen, or ... the profound silence of eventide as in the poems of Kalocsay, or the concrete details as in the poems of Goodheir. ... Dinwoodie paints majestic images before which we stand in reverence, feeling ourselves insignificant beings in the bosom of nature and the infinite universe.

Auld describes Dinwoodie as an authentic poet and brilliant translator, and probably Esperanto literature's to-date only truly outstanding Christian poet (in Enkonduko en la Originalan Literaturon de Esperanto [Introduction to the Original Literature of Eo] (1979), p. 83).  Quoting from Dornoj kaj Rozoj: Poemciklo el Mia G^ardeno [Thorns and Roses: A Poetic Cycle from My Garden], Auld deems Dinwoodie to be: one of those few who are capable of writing in seemingly simple and effectively clear verse and not at the same time losing the dynamism of authentic poetry.

The expression skota skolo for a Scottish school of Esperanto writers was probably first used in the poem Manifesta Balado (Manifesto Ballad) - the opening poem in Kvaropo.

Kvaropo (Foursome)

The Scottish School became a published entity with the appearance of the volume of poetry Kvaropo (Foursome) in 1952.

Although the four poets all sing the praises of poet, writer and editor Kálmán Kalocsay (1891-1976), their great Hungarian forerunner and contemporary, Auld foresees the collection as a sign of a new generation.  Nevertheless, the explicit aim of the foursome was to continue the literary work of their predecessors, of whom the Hungarian Kalocsay was the most notable.

Judging from the content of Kvaropo, the four Scottsmen, in fact, had little in common.  They shared an education in English-language poetry and to some extent used the attainments of this poetry in their work, while conserving the values of the Esperanto literary tradition.

In his treatise Kvaropo kaj la Skota Skolo (Kvaropo and the Scottish School) (2nd ed. 1977), Hungarian literary critic Vilmos Benczik comments on the four poets differing personalities:  Auld is animatedly impatient, he is aesthetically tuned. ... For Auld, poetry serves above all as an instrument for communicating his thoughts effectively to the people, in the first instance on society.  There is an important sympathy with the political left.  Francis is an anatomically rigorous, intellectual being ... (as Auld) with the difference that his interest is more abstract, more philosophical than that of Auld.   ... one supposes disillusionment with all politics.  Dinwoodie inclines mainly to meditation, melancholy, cultivates purely personal lyricism, with ethical saturation, is mildly but unmistakably conservative.  Rossetti is bohemian, somewhat light ... clearly inclined to hedonism and palely sympathises with ideas of the left.

In reality, John Dinwoodie seldom had the chance to take part in the groups activities, but all four Scottish writers were also part of a larger group of literati who were then working on the Angla Antologio (English Anthology) - two volumes of translated English-language works from AD 1000-1960: vol. 1 (1000-1800) (ed. W. Auld and R. Rossetti, 1957); vol. 2 (1800-1960) (ed. A. Goodheir, 1987).

Later Work

Dinwoodie was later forced to give up his literary interests for the sake of his pastoral duties - a difficult personal decision that was a true sacrifice.  Francis went on to produce blockbuster novels, and the older Rossetti to guide by his erudition, wit and humour.  Rossetti also edited two important anthologies of original Esperanto short stories.  Auld continued his work in almost every literary field until the turn of the century, and remains one of the most published and respected Esperanto writers.

(See the individual pages on each author on this website.)

Other Websites

See the Scottish Esperanto Association     Originala Literaturo Esperanta     Esperanto Association of Britain     Universala Esperanto Asocio


Francis, John: La Skota Skolo (The Scottish School) in La Brita Esperantisto, No. 959, Autumn 2005; pp. 10-13. ISSN 0007-067X.
Sutton, Geoffrey: Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto 1887-2007. New York, NY: Mondial, 2007. x + 728 p. ISBN 0978-1-59569-090-6.

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The Scottish School (Skota Skolo) of Esperanto Writers
by Geoffrey Sutton

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