Edited and introduced by Francis Russell Hart. Opening with a premonition of death, The Serpent infuses many of Gunn's favourite themes with a sense of drama and urgency. This is a story of a young man's conflict with the spiritual authority of his father, a spirit of scepticism set against an authoritarian Calvinism. The serpent of the book is the serpent of wisdom, representing his reconciliation of both of these opposite and a recognition of the inarticulate understanding of his mother, an understanding which enables him to reconcile himself with living in the Highlands. His breakdown after his father's death and his restoration through his growing empathy with his mother are amongst the most moving scenes in Scottish literature. As a counterpoise Tom's secret love affair with Janet is one of the most intense and subtle in Gunn's fiction. This conflict succeeds in bringing alive both the psychological and economic position of the Highlands in the early years of the 20th century. The book also gives a powerful vision of what the Highlands might have been but for the Clearances. By turns haunting and dark, the novel resonates in the mind long after being read and is one of the first and most powerful statements of Gunn's philosophical anarchism.