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Encyclopedia > Trainspotting (novel)
Trainspotting
Author Irvine Welsh
Country Scotland
Language English, Scots
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Secker & Warburg
Publication date 1993
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 344 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-7493-9606-7

Trainspotting is the first novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. It is written in the form of short chapters narrated in the first person by various residents of Edinburgh who either use heroin, are friends of the core group of heroin users, or engage in destructive activities that are implicitly portrayed as addictions that serve the same function as heroin addiction. The novel is set in the mid to late 1980s, and the protagonists live in Leith, Edinburgh. Image File history File links TrainspottingBookcoverearly. ... Irvine Welsh (born Leith, Edinburgh, September 27, 1958) is an acclaimed contemporary Scottish novelist, most famous for his novel Trainspotting. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... This article is about the country. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Scots refers to the Anglic varieties spoken in parts of Scotland. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative, typically in prose. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Random House is a publishing division of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann based in New York City. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN-13 represented as EAN-13 bar code (in this case ISBN 978-3-16-148410-0) The International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique[1] commercial book identifier barcode. ... This article is about the country. ... Irvine Welsh (born Leith, Edinburgh, September 27, 1958) is an acclaimed contemporary Scottish novelist, most famous for his novel Trainspotting. ... For other uses, see Heroin (disambiguation). ... The Water of Leith looking upriver from the docks, with the old buildings along Leith Shore including The Kings Wark and The Old Ship Hotel and Kings Landing. ... For other uses, see Edinburgh (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Setting and tone

Trainspotting charts the first phase of the HIV epidemic as well as exploring the broader social conditions of Margaret Thatcher's Britain. This picaresque novel operates in the literary traditions established by William Burroughs, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Hubert Selby, among others. Its tone ranges from cynical black comedy to visceral horror to genuine empathy for its characters. Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections). ... Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC (born October 13, 1925), former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in office from 1979 to 1990. ... The picaresque novel (Spanish: picaresco, from pícaro, for rogue or rascal) is a popular style of novel that originated in Spain and flourished in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and has continued to influence modern literature. ... William S. Burroughs. ... Seline redirects here. ... Hugh MacDiarmid was the pen name of Christopher Murray Grieve (August 11, 1892, Langholm - September 9, 1978), perhaps the most important Scottish poet of the 20th century. ... Hubert Selby, Jr. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into articles entitled Black comedy and List of black comedies, accessible from a disambiguation page. ... Not to be confused with Pity, Sympathy, or Compassion. ...


Characters

  • Mark "Rent Boy"/"Rents" Renton — the main character and antihero of the novel, Renton is the voice of (relative) sanity among his group of friends, many of whom he can't stand. He narrates his daily life — from supporting his heroin addiction with petty theft to interacting with the "normal world" — with a cynical, black-humoured eye. He is capable of fitting in well enough to common society, is relatively good-looking and of above-average intelligence, but uses heroin as a means to withdraw and is self-conscious.
  • Simon "Sick Boy"/"Simone" Williamson — A slick, amoral and seductive, Scots-Italian, con artist, and Renton's oldest friend. He is always on the lookout for the "perfect scam", despite being perfectly inept at serious crime. Essentially, a combination Byronic hero and villain, he is also a chipper, who enjoys flaunting his ability to use heroin, then stop at will, without developing an addiction. When thinking to himself, often imagines he is speaking with Sean Connery.
  • Daniel "Spud" Murphy — Naive and childlike, Spud is both the whipping boy and only real source of comfort among his circle of friends; they feel genuinely protective of him, even as they repeatedly mock and take advantage of him. Although very light-fingered, Spud is the only genuinely kind-hearted character in the novel. He has a soft spot for animals. He uses heroin because it feels good; he would not be able to achieve any position in society even if sober and his inherent sense of decency cannot survive unaddled among his mates, whose heroin use is sometimes the least objectionable of their acts.
  • Francis "Franco"/"Beggar Boy" Begbie — A violent sociopath, Begbie terrorizes his "friends" into going along with whatever he says, assaulting and brutalizing anyone who angers him. This violence is reflected in the manner in which he speaks. He is the only one in the group who does not use heroin and although he considers addicts to be the lowest form of life and derides his mates for their use of drugs, he is himself thoroughly addicted to alcohol and violence.
  • David "Davie" Mitchell — The "everyman" of the novel, Davie seems to be the most "normal" of the characters. Unlike the others, he is a university graduate with a degree in chemistry and holds down a decent job. His life is thrown into chaos, however, when he contracts HIV and his experiences form the basis of the story in the chapter "Bad Blood".
  • Tommy — A childhood friend of Renton's, Tommy does not use heroin and seems completely content to drink, use speed, play football, and listen to Iggy Pop. When his girlfriend dumps him, he seeks to numb the depression by experimenting with the drug, grudgingly provided by Renton. His resulting addiction weighs on Renton's conscience, and in part provokes him to seriously attempt sobriety. Tommy contracts HIV at the end of the novel.
  • Kelly — a young barmaid who has a crush on Renton, but is shy about pursuing him because of his drug abuse.
  • Dianne — a teenage girl who is one of Renton's few conquests, during a brief respite from heroin use which restores his libido and potency. Renton accompanies Dianne to her flat, where he discovers that she is clearly the more experienced partner. The novel describes Dianne as nonchalantly fitting a condom onto Renton and then mounting him and using him for her pleasure: Renton is described as a "dildo on a skateboard," as Dianne uses him as nothing more than a necessary sexual aid and quickly achieves orgasm. Renton wakes up the next morning and groggily meets who he believes are Dianne's flat-mates; they are in fact her parents as she is only fourteen years old.

In literature and film, an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also have enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers or viewers. ... Italian-Scots, or Scots-Italian, designates an ethnic minority of Scottish and Italian descent. ... A confidence trick, confidence game, or con for short, (also known as a scam) is an attempt to intentionally mislead a person or persons (known as the mark) usually with the goal of financial or other gain. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... “Bad guy” redirects here. ... A chipper is an occassional tobacco smoker who isnt subject to the heavy level that is typical of addicted smokers. ... Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930) is an Academy Award-winning Scottish actor and producer who is perhaps best known as the first actor to portray James Bond in cinema, starring in seven Bond films. ... Antisocial personality disorder (APD) is a personality disorder which is often characterised by antisocial and impulsive behaviour. ... Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections). ... Amphetamine or Amfetamine (Alpha-Methyl-PHenEThylAMINE), also known as, beta-phenyl-isopropylamine, and benzedrine, is a prescription stimulant commonly used to treat Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children. ... Football is a ball game played between two teams of eleven players, each attempting to win by scoring more goals than their opponent. ... James Newell Osterberg, Jr. ... In everyday language depression refers to any downturn in mood, which may be relatively transitory and perhaps due to something trivial. ... François Chifflart (1825-1901), La Conscience (daprès Victor Hugo) Conscience is an ability or faculty or sense that leads to feelings of remorse when we do things that go against our moral values, or which informs our moral judgment before performing such an action. ... Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections). ...

Minor characters

Cover of a recent edition of the book
  • Gav Temperly (aka Temps) - A welfare worker who is friends with Renton and the other characters.
  • Rab McLaughlin (aka Second Prize) - Washed-up football star turned hopeless alcoholic.
  • Billy Renton - Renton's older brother.
  • Lizzy - Tommy's ex-girlfriend.
  • Nina - Renton's teenaged cousin. She dresses in black like a goth, much to the dismay of her family.
  • Alison - Friend of Renton, Spud, and Sick Boy.
  • Lesley - Mother of dead baby Dawn.
  • Baby Dawn - Dead daughter of Lesley and Sick Boy.
  • Johnny "White Swan"/"Mother Superior" Swan - Heroin dealer. Used to be a good friend of Mark Renton.

Image File history File links TrainspottingBookcover. ... Image File history File links TrainspottingBookcover. ... This article is about the philosophical position. ... Clinical depression (also called major depressive disorder, or unipolar depression when compared to bipolar disorder) is a state of intense sadness, melancholia or despair that has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individuals social functioning and/or activities of daily living. ... Welfare is financial assistance paid by taxpayers to groups of people who are unable to support themselves, and determined to be able to function more effectively with financial assistance. ... King Alcohol and his Prime Minister circa 1820 Alcoholism is the consumption of or preoccupation with alcoholic beverages to the extent that this behavior interferes with the alcoholics normal personal, family, social, or work life. ...

Plot summary

The novel is split up into seven sections: the first six contain multiple chapters of varying length and differing focus. The novel's origins in short fiction are still visible though no segment or chapter is wholly independent of the others.


Each character narrates differently, in a fashion comparable to stream-of-consciousness or representative of psychological realism. For example, Spud will refer to people internally as 'cats' (Begbie is a jungle cat, while he himself is a house cat), and Sick Boy will occasionally entertain an inner-dialogue between himself and Sean Connery. Chapters narrated by Renton are written phonetically, which conveys the character's accent and use of Scots, while Davie's chapters ("Bad Blood", "Traditional Sunday Breakfast") are narrated in Standard English with dialogue appearing phonetically. Other chapters are written from a third-person omniscient stance (in Standard English) to cover the actions and thoughts of different characters simultaneously. For example, "The First Shag in Ages" covers Spud and Renton's outing to a pub where they meet Dianne and her pal, followed by Renton's return to Dianne's and the awkward breakfast that ensues, all the while revealing what each character thinks of the other. In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a literary technique which seeks to portray an individuals point of view by giving the written equivalent of the characters thought processes. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930) is an Academy Award-winning Scottish actor and producer who is perhaps best known as the first actor to portray James Bond in cinema, starring in seven Bond films. ... Scots refers to the Anglic varieties spoken in parts of Scotland. ... Standard English is a controversial term used to denote a form of written and spoken English that is thought to be normative for educated users. ...


Unlike the movie it inspired, the novel's plot is not linear. Characters are often introduced without backstory and without any initially obvious connection either to the core group of characters or to the junkie lifestyle. The word linear comes from the Latin word linearis, which means created by lines. ... In narratology, a back-story (also back story or backstory) is the history behind the situation extant at the start of the main story. ...


Themes

The novel is basically a series of short stories. Each chapter focuses on a given event and does not necessarily contribute to Renton's eventual betrayal. For example, some chapters focus on Renton's sexual morality: in one chapter an old man masturbates onto him while he is sleeping, and in another he has sex with his dead brother's pregnant fiance in the bathroom during his brother's funeral. This article is in need of attention. ... -1... Masturbation is the manual excitation of the sexual organs, most often to the point of orgasm. ...


Welsh explores in depth the absence of a true Scottish national identity. Renton displays a great self-loathing of his country, which he views as a nation colonised by the English. Welsh suggests that the idealised and romantic image of 'Scotland the Brave' is a false heritage, a sentimentalised vision of Scotland perpetuated by events such as the Edinburgh festival. The Edinburgh experienced by tourists varies greatly from the gritty, harsh reality of life for the under classes in areas such as Leith.


However, drug abuse (both heroin and alcohol) is certainly the main issue dealt with. The novel explores what causes drug abuse and what sustains it in its many forms. Many chapters focus on Renton's continual attempts to kick the habit and their accompanying relapses. The novel ends rather ambiguously, with Renton betraying his friends and heading for Amsterdam with money they had all acquired from a drug deal. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


The novel heavily refers to bands that influenced Welsh's writing, including David Bowie, Joy Division, the Pogues, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, The Smiths, and especially Iggy Pop, who all the characters idolize. Sick Boy's nickname comes from the lyrics of the song Death Trip by Iggy Pop's band, the Stooges, and also from the character's sexual amorality and perversions. David Bowie (IPA: []) (born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947) is an English singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger and audio engineer. ... Joy Division were an English rock band that formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. ... The Pogues are a band of mixed Irish and English background, playing traditional Irish folk with influences from the English punk rock movement. ... Lewis Reed[1] (born March 2, 1942) is an American rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. ... The Velvet Underground (sometimes shortened to The Velvets or The VU) was an American rock band first active from 1965 to 1973. ... Frank Vincent Zappa[1] (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, musician, and film director. ... The Smiths were an English rock group active from 1982 to 1987. ... James Newell Osterberg, Jr. ...


The book is partly written in a phonetic rendering of urban Scots. Scots refers to the Anglic varieties spoken in parts of Scotland. ...


The meaning of the title

The title is a reference to an episode where Begbie and Renton meet "an auld drunkard" in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are visiting to use as a toilet. He asks them (in a weak attempt at a joke) if they are "trainspottin". As they walk away, Renton realises the drunk was Begbie's father. (p309, Minerva edition) The Water of Leith looking upriver from the docks, with the old buildings along Leith Shore including The Kings Wark and The Old Ship Hotel and Kings Landing. ... Railfans practicing their hobby at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. ...


Awards

The novel quickly found success with highbrow and mass audiences alike. It was longlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize (and was apparently rejected for the shortlist after offending the ‘feminist sensibilities’ of two of the judges[1]) and received even wider attention once the film of the same name appeared in 1996, starring Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle. A sequel to this novel, called Porno, was published in 2002. Highbrow is a colloquial synonym for intellectual. ... The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, also known as the Man Booker Prize, or simply the Man Booker, is one of the worlds most important literary prizes, and awarded each year for the best original novel written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland in... Movie poster for Trainspotting Trainspotting is a 1996 black comedy film directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh about a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh and their passage through life. ... Ewan Gordon McGregor (born March 31, 1971) (IPA pronunciation: [1]) is a Scottish actor who has had significant success in mainstream, indie and art house films. ... Robert Carlyle OBE (born April 14, 1961) is a Scottish movie actor. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Porno is a novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, and is the sequel to Trainspotting. ...


Editions

  • ISBN 0-393-31480-4 (paperback, (1996)
  • ISBN 0-393-05724-0 (hardcover)
  • ISBN 0-7493-2173-3 (paperback)
  • ISBN 0-7493-9606-7 (paperback) (1994)

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

References


  Results from FactBites:
 
Of Clockwork Apples and Oranges: Burgess and Kubrick: brentonpriestley.com (3611 words)
In a career of adapting novels into films and substantially altering them, it is remarkable just how closely the film sticks to the novel[8] – not only in terms of narrative, as Kubrick points out here, but also in characterisation, structure, dialogue, and, crucially, style.
The effect in both novel and film is that the audience quickly pieces the language together and builds up the vocabulary in their minds.
Were the scenes of violence in the novel to be described in a flat, dispassionate style, the equivalent of removing the music, then Alex’s ‘great action ballet’ becomes one thug brutally slashing at the face of another.
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