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Thread: 'Waverley' by Walter Scott

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    'Waverley' by Walter Scott

    'Waverley' is the story of a naive young Englishman, Edward Waverley, sent to the Highlands of Scotland in 1745 to join the army of the ruling Hanoverian King preparing to fight the invading force of Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the British throne. Once there, he meets the committed Jacobite clan chief Fergus MacIvor and his beautiful and no less zealous sister Flora. Carried away by the romance of the situation and his dawning love for Flora, Waverley changes sides, throws in his lot with the Jacobites and goes off to fight for the cause.

    Scott vividly evokes the wild and dramatic Highland setting and gives us a wide variety of well-realized characters, from the wild clansmen to comic characters like 'Daft' David Gellately. We also have our hero getting into various sticky situations, a love quadrangle, striking set-pieces such as the battle at Prestonpans and the tragic and moving conclusion to the story.

    'Waverley' has been called the first historical novel. Scott was perhaps the first to realistically portray past societies, and to show the effect of historical change on individuals. Here the ancient ways of the Highlands are about to be changed forever.

    Highly recommended, for itself and as 'the one that started it all'.
    Last edited by Zaza; 02-16-2013 at 10:35 AM.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    I've just read it, and gone on to read the others in sequence.

    Scott was regarded until the mid C20 as pretty well on a level with Shakespeare, popularly well known (I remember BBC serials when I was small) and a frequent set text. He seems to have sunk out of sight at the moment, no doubt in part due to his ponderous C18 prose style. (In total contrast to the Scots which he transcribes at length in dialogue).

    As a political figure he is ambiguous - in one sense he put Scotland back on the map as an independent culture (with detailed awareness of its historic divisions.) Scots nationalists tend to criticize him for wanting political independence.

    If you've read Waverley, you would be interested in Redgauntlet - a late work when he returned to the subject of Prince Charles Edward and the Jabobites.

    Old Mortality is set earlier (1670s) but against the same political and religious divisions.

    By and large, it is his Scottish novels that are admired, apart from Ivanhoe and Kenilworth as far as I can tell. Towards the end of his life he wrote to get himself out of debt, and I suspect the later historical novels aren't so interesting.

    Although Waverley is called an historical novel, its sub-title is Tis Sixty Years since, and the political tensions were still important to Scotland when it was published.

    The conclusion is tragic for Fergus and Flora, but surely the weakness is that there is a conventional happy ending for Waverley and Rose, ignoring that while they are getting married, the Highland clearances were getting under way.

    Incidentally, despite his reputation, very few of Scott's novels feature scenes in the Highlands - Waverley, Rob Roy, Legend of Montrose and The Highland Widow.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    I've read some Scott as well and do enjoy his work.
    I haven't read the original Waverly yet, but I have recently finished his second "Waverly" novel; Guy Mannering- The Astrologer.
    Guy Mannering was an enjoyable read laced with a few humorous parts. The novel led to the naming of the Dandie Dinmont breed of Scottish Terrier based on one of the character names.

    A favorite quote from Guy Mannering- Dandie Dinmont describing his six Terriers...

    "There’s auld Pepper and auld Mustard, and young Pepper and young Mustard, and little Pepper and little Mustard – I had them a’ regularly entered first wi’ rottens-then wi’ stots or weasles - and then wi’ tods and brocks – and now they fear naething that ever came wi’ a hairy skin on’t.”

    I've also read two of Scott's narrative poems; The Lay of the Last Minstrel and The Lady of the Lake
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

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    The ending of 'Waverley' is flawed, because while Waverley is planning his life with Rose, the rebellion and its aftermath are far from over. 'He felt himself entitled to say firmly.....that the romance of his life was ended, and that its real history had now commenced'. It's as if all that stuff isn't his business any more, now he has other fish to fry, although he does of course go to see Fergus in prison.

    Of the Scottish novels, 'Waverley' is the only one I have read so far.

    Have you read G.K. Chesterton's essay on Walter Scott? It's my favourite piece of Scott criticism.
    Last edited by Zaza; 02-21-2013 at 08:54 AM.

  5. #5
    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaza View Post
    ...Have you read G.K. Chesterton's essay on Walter Scott? It's my favourite piece of Scott criticism.
    Zaza,
    Wasn't certain if you intended that for me, nevertheless, I have not read Chesterton's criticism, but I will make note of it for future reference.
    I'll make it a point to read Waverly accompanied by Chesterton.

    Thanks
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Another post to promote Redgauntlet, Old Mortality and The Highland Widow.

    I'm reading one of his English novels at the moment, Peverill of the Peak, and its a bit slow going for me, but still worthwhile.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    I didn't 'reply with quote' because I don't know how to do it! A little embarrassing. And before you point me to the instructions, I have already read them, and I didn't understand them. So yes Gilliatt Gurgle, it was meant for you (and you Ruggerlad). Hopefully I shall get the one-on -one tech support I need to sort this (!).

    I have got 'Redgauntlet' and 'Old Mortality' but I haven't read them yet.
    Last edited by Zaza; 04-11-2013 at 08:39 AM.

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