March 2024: Sir Walter Scott

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March 2024: Sir Walter Scott

Dez 31, 2023, 2:53 pm

And to end the first quarter and welcome spring (or autumn if you are down under), we will go back in time to check on Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) - the Scottish novelist who is considered the father of historical fiction.

He was also a historian so in addition to his novels, he also did some non-fiction. He also produced short fiction, poetry and plays.

What do you plan to read this month? And what had you read by him before?

Dez 31, 2023, 10:38 pm

Ive not read him at all. where should I start?

Jan 1, 6:04 am

Hi Cindy, some of his most famous works are Ivanhoe set in Medieval England, and Rob Roy set in (I think) 18th century Scotland. Many of his novels are set in Scotland.

Jan 1, 6:09 am

I have read Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Kenilworth and Waverley, though I didn't get on with the latter.

Jan 2, 6:01 am

Love Medival England so Ivanhoe it is

Jan 3, 3:21 pm

Looking forward to Walter Scott and rejecting the "Sir".

So far, I've read
Old Mortality
Rob Roy
The Heart of Midlothian
The Bride of Lammermoor
The Antiquary
as well as an edited version of Scott's Tales of a Grandfather

I plan on reading Redgauntlet for March.

Jan 12, 5:44 am

I have read:
Guy Mannering
The Heart of Mid-Lothian
The Antiquary

I could not tell you what any of the books were about off the top of my head...unremarkable? Looking back I see that I rated all of them 3 stars--an average read. Not sure I want to read a 5th?!

Jan 12, 7:41 am

>3 john257hopper: Excellent advice! I started with these, and they truly resonated with me.

Editado: Fev 18, 9:02 pm

well I finally finished the introduction and 'author notes' to ivanhoe and am approaching the book with caution. However, it takes place during the age of Richard the Lionheart; how bad can it be? we will see

Editado: Fev 19, 4:16 am

>9 cindydavid4: Enjoy, Cindy :).

Like many classical novels, it just has to be taken more slowly, and on its own terms.

I haven't yet thought which Scott novel I will read.

Editado: Mar 9, 12:34 pm

I have started Scott's first novel Waverley (1814), but it's going a bit slow. Hoping it picks up a little.

The only other Scott I have read is The Highland Widow, which is a novella excerpted from his longer Chronicles of the Canongate (1827). It is one Scott's last works and I enjoyed that novella quite a bit.

Editado: Mar 12, 10:49 pm

I read Bonnie Prince Charlie and the '45. This was an excerpt from Scott's Tales of a Grandfather. It told the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie from his landing in Scotland through the Battle of Culloden and his eventual escape from Scotland. I think Gabaldon's version of the Battle of Culloden is much better. I don't think I will be seeking out the unabridged version. 4 hours 45 minutes Time is at a premium this month and I went "cheap!"

Editado: Mar 14, 2:02 pm

I finished Waverley (1814), often considered the first historical novel in the Western tradition. Edward Waverley is a young Englishman without a clear purpose. Heir to his uncle's estate, Waverley-Honour, Edward enters the British army and is posted to Dundee, Scotland. While on leave he visits friends of his uncle's, where he meets men of strong Jacobite sympathies. While traveling and visiting, he is taken into custody by British officials because reports have circulated that he has deserted his company and has now aligned with the rebel Jacobites. Edward is later rescued by his new Jacobite friends and makes the decision to don the tartans and join the gathering rebellion to bring Bonnie Prince Charlie (called "The Chevalier" in the book) to the throne. We follow Edward to Preston where he participates in the famous 1745 battle, and the story continues from there.

I had a hard time enjoying this book at first. This was Scott's first novel and his language is sometimes difficult to follow; the Scottish dialects of some characters was almost impossible for me to decipher (these bits may have worked better on audio). I didn't feel engaged with the story until Edward's capture and then the novel seemed to fly by. Scott's tale was well-researched, from written narratives and accounts he had personally heard from rebellion survivors and their descendants. Scott provided long and detailed extra notes on various real-life characters and events. Scott's writing in these short explanatory texts was so much easier to read and understand than his more flowery prose in the novel. I'm glad I read it, even if it took nearly half the book before I was enjoying it. I haven't given up completely on Scott and plan to read at least one more.

Mar 19, 5:34 am

Sorry for my absence, my reading plans don't always mesh with real life.

I have finished Guy Mannering which I enjoyed more than Waverley. There are no historical events to accommodate, although there's reference to what is going on in North America and India. After a false (and to me misleading) start we get a romance featuring a lost heir, smugglers, and gypsies. The young lovers act surprisingly sensibly and there's a great portrait of a shrewd lawyer. This was dashed off in a few weeks, and occasionally it shows, but it doesn't distract overmuch.
My edition dates from 1898, and both Scott's and the editor's notes are mainly concerned with the anecdotes on which Scott based his plot or real people who inspired the characters. His love of collecting "antiquities" carries him away occasionally. The extensive glossary included at the end was helpful in understanding the Scots dialogue. A modern edition would give translations for the many Lation quotes, I hope. One thing I found irritating was the main villain, Dirk Hatteraick, who is presented again and again as Dutchman, but speaks incorrect German.

Mar 19, 6:06 am

I am working my way through Heart of Midlothian. It's a good story but I do struggle with the Scots dialect most of the characters speak. Of course it's more authentic but slows down reading.

Mar 19, 9:39 am

>14 MissWatson: Scott did have his lawyers down pat. This is one I haven't read - will have to correct that.
Which edition did you read? Penguin and OUP both usually translate Latin.

>15 john257hopper: That is one of my favourite Scott books.

Mar 20, 9:28 am

>16 SassyLassy: My sister gave me a hardback copy published in 1898 and edited by Andrew Lang that had been gifted to her library. It's pretty, but they did things differently back then, when the public school-educated readership would have been familiar with Latin (I think). I checked the OUP website, because I have their edition of Waverley, but apparently it's out of print there at the moment. But who knows, sometimes we get lucky at the secondhand bookshop.

Mar 25, 5:29 pm

I have finished Heart of Midlothian. This is one of Scott's most famous novels, named after the Tolbooth prison in the heart of Edinburgh. The basic plotline concerns Effie Deans, who gives birth to a child who disappears and who as a consequence is arrested and tried for its murder on the basis of a harsh Scots law in force at the time which gives a presumption of guilt to a mother in these circumstances. Her sister Jean makes a solo trip to London to beg mercy from the King and Queen. This plot is well and dramatically told, as are the rebellious events around the death of Captain Porteous, but much of the story's effect was marred for me by the heavy use of Scots vernacular for the speech of many of the characters, and the doings of rigid and unbending members of the Scottish kirk. I know it is not the point for the style of novels written two centuries ago, but this could have been a better read if around 30% shorter. That said, this is a good novel and rightly regarded as one of Scott's best novels.

Mar 26, 8:07 am

>18 john257hopper: I felt the same way about the Scottish dialect. I didn't tough it out and skipped parts of the book. I want to do a re-read at sometime in the "newly adapted version for modern readers."

Mar 26, 9:15 am

>17 MissWatson: What a lovely edition to have.

>18 john257hopper: I know I said it above, but this is one of my favourite books by Scott. I thought he really did a good job with it. Happy to see your positive response to it.

>19 Tess_W: Aren't you afraid of losing some of the flavour of the book (or any book) with a newly adapted version for modern readers? I guess the trade off is having people actually read the author, rather than having him or her pass into obscurity,

Editado: Mar 26, 10:57 am

>18 john257hopper:, >19 Tess_W:, >20 SassyLassy: There was a small bit of dialect in Waverley; I was wondering if I had listened to those parts on audiobook it might have helped me through them. I want to read The Heart of Midlothian at some point, so I made pick up an audio version to supplement the text.

Mar 26, 3:40 pm

>21 kac522: Sometimes it helps reading the dialogue out loud even if you don't have the accent. Audio book might do it too.

Hope you do get to The Heart of Midlothian.

Mar 26, 3:45 pm

>22 SassyLassy: As a non-native speaker, I've found that to be very useful when any accent is used in a book - hearing it/saying it seems to connect something in one's brain differently. Although with authors I read a lot of, I need this only for a few pages - once I get used to it, the written form works just fine for me.

Mar 27, 2:39 am

>20 SassyLassy: Nope, since this would be the second read, I can focus more on the storyline rather than toughing out the dialect!

Abr 3, 4:11 pm

Finished Redgauntlet today, and thought it was a great adventure story. Then, three books by Wilkie Collins were delivered, so I'm all set for April's reading.