View Full Version : Redgauntlet by Walter Scott

Jackson Richardson
01-17-2013, 11:36 AM
I'm re-reading this book. It is the one among his later books which returns to the Scottish C18 scene of his earliest books, with a society divided politically in the aftermath of civil wars.

There is often an odd idea about that Scottish history is solely to do with the Highlands. So far, the book has been set in Edinburgh and the Scottish side of the English border, by the Solway Firth. (The scene I remember is of men fishing for salmon on the Solway by chasing them on horseback with spears.)

Scott's prose style is long winded, but makes a curious contrast with the melodramatic action and the spectacular scenery.

Anyone else read it?

04-19-2013, 10:24 AM
In 'Redgauntlet', Scott poses the question, 'What if there was a third Jacobite rebellion in 1765?'. This fictitious revolt links the story of the fanatical Hugh Redgauntlet and the mystery of the young Darsie Latimer's birth. The action takes place in Edinburgh and on either side of the Scottish Border and features, among other things, the world of smuggling and other nefarious activities that Scott knew intimately from his his work as Sheriff.

The novel has a strong autobiographical element. We have not one but two young heroes, perhaps the two sides of the character of the young Walter Scott. There is the level-headed Alan Fairford and his friend, the irresponsible, head-in -the-clouds Darsie Latimer. Alan's father notes disapprovingly his love of novel-reading. Darsie is a fine handsome young fellow who is not averse to pointing it out. The sober Edinburgh lawyer father of Alan Fairford is a portrait of Scott's own father.

There are wonderful comic characters such as the skipper Nanty Ewart, habitual drunk and former pirate, and Poor Peter Peebles, the shabby litigant always on the lookout for a free meal or, more importantly, a free drink.

'Redgauntlet is Scott's final reckoning with the lost cause of the Jacobites, embodied in the ultimately tragic figure of Hugh Redgauntlet. By introducing a historical event that never happened and then asking 'What if...?', Scott surely created the earliest counterfactual novel. Another first?

Jackson Richardson
05-10-2013, 07:31 AM
It is good, isn't it? I've been reading a lot of Scott and notice how he returns again and again to certain themes/motifs. There's the lost heir (Guy Mannering, The Antiquary), the tragic fanatic either Jacobite here or in Waverley or Puritan as in Old Mortality, Peverill of the Peak, the lost Jacobite cause in Waverley, Rob Roy, the contrast between the civilized world and the wild untamed in Waverley, Rob Roy.

Redgauntlet includes the admired short story/ghost story Wandering Willie's Tale which is impressive in its own right, and introduces the Redgauntlet family and their self destructive nature.

Academics can have fun noticing the use of different conventions for the narrator with first person narratives from two characters (Darsie and Alan) and third person narration.

Scott went off form after Ivanhoe in many readers' opinion. Here he returned to the Scottish C18 background of his first eight novels and produced a novel in the same league.