An Appreciation of Sir Walter Scott
Part VII – The Waverley Novels continued.
St Ronan’s Well
Meg Dods, a sentimental virago, keeps a rundown inn in a derelict Tweedale village, while the young Laird is living way beyond his means. When a nearby spring becomes a Spa, life changes as a hotel and a troop of social climbers move in. But this is not a tale of antique virtue giving way to decadent ostentation: although the gang at the ‘Well’ dance the seven deadly sins, everyone in the book has feet of clay.
In the summer of 1765, Darsie Latimer sets out to discover the secret of his parentage in a journey to the wilds of Dumfriesshire. But very soon he discovers that he must confront not geographical but ideological wilds, for he is kidnapped by Edward Hugh Redgauntlet and involved in a last, fictional, attempt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. The violent past is repeatedly recalled: the oral diablerie of the inset ‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’, probably the greatest short story ever written in Scots, provides a grotesque vision of the structures of an older Scotland. It is this older Scotland that Redgauntlet wishes to restore.
Woodstock opens in farce, yet it is one of Scott’s darkest novels. It is set in England in 1651 as Parliamentary forces hunt the fugitive Charles Stewart who days previously had been defeated at Worcester. In the superb portrait of Cromwell we see a self-torturing despot who attempts to be in full control in the name of religion; in the rakish Charles we see a man without self-reflection, whose own libertarianism after his restoration to the English throne in 1660 permitted a great burgeoning in scientific enquiry and the arts.
Ann of Geierstein
Anne of Geierstein (1829) is set in Central Europe in the fifteenth century, but it is a remarkably modern novel, for the central issues are the political instability and violence that arise from the mix of peoples and the fluidity of European boundaries. With Anne of Geierstein, Scott concludes the unfinished historical business of Quentin Durward, working on a larger canvas with broader brush-strokes and generally with more sombre colours. The novel illustrates the darkening of Scott’s historical vision in the final part of his career. It is also a remarkable manifestation of the way in which the scope of his imaginative vision continued to expand even as his physical powers declined.
An Appreciation of Sir Walter Scott in Ten Parts
Part I – Walter Scott, A Short Biography
Part II – Scott The Poet.
Part III – The Waverley Novels, Introduction and The First Four Novels (Waverley, Guy Mannering, The Antiquary, Rob Roy)
Part IV The Waverley Novels continued (The Black Dwarf, Old Mortality, Heart Of Midlothian, Bride of Lammermoor, Legend Of Montrose)
Part V – The Waverley Novels continued (Ivanhoe, The Monastery, The Abbot, Kenilworth)
Part VI – The Waverley Novels continued (The Pirate, The Fortunes of Nigel, Peveril of the Peak, Quentin Durward)
Part VII – The Waverley Novels continued (St Ronan’s Well, Redgauntlet, Woodstock, Ann of Geierstein)
Parts VIII – The Waverley Novels continued (Coming Soon)
Part IX – Locations Associated with Sir Walter Scott. (Coming Soon)
Part X – Short Bibliography including Editions of The Waverley Novels. (Coming Soon)
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