sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2012

Sir Walter Scott



From The Short Oxford History of English Literature, by Andrew Sanders (1994)

In the Preface to Castle Rackrent [1800] Edgeworth had recognized the fluid relationship between her fiction and the writing of history. In a way that prefigures Thackeray's suspicion of the elevation of fancy-dress heroes by historians, she states her preference for a history which looks beyond the 'splendid characters playing their parts on the great theatre of the world' and which begs to be admitted behind the scenes 'that we may take a nearer view of the actors and actresses'.

It was Edgeworth's ability to puncture the pretensions of conventional historians and to establish a 'behind the scenes' picture of society in a state of flux which seems to have inspired Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) to return to the unfinished and abandoned manuscript of Waverley in 1813. Her Irish novels, he later maintained, 'had gone so far to make the English familiar with the characters of their gay and kind-hearted neighbours of Ireland, that she may truly be said to have done more towards completing the Union than perhaps all the legislative enactments by which it has been followed up'. It is an ambitious claim, but no more so than Scott's own professed hope 'that something might be attempted for my own country, of the same kind with that which Misss Edgeworth so fortunately achieved for Ireland—something which might introduce her natives to those of her sister kingdom in a more favourable light than they had been placed hitherto'. What Scott managed to achieve for Scotland was a far broader popular understanding of the distinctive nature of Scottish history and culture, its divisions and contradictions as much as its vitality. If he can at times be accused of having sanitized much in the Scottish tradition of dissent from English norms of government and civilization, he did manage to explore and to explain swathes of northern history ignored by English cultural imperialists and Scottish social progressives alike. In choosing to eschew the Scots dialect, both as a poet and as a novelist, he rendered his work acceptable to a wide audience likely to be alienated by a merely parochial self-assurance. By varying, examining, and imagining vital aspects of national history he also managed to present an analysis of a historical process at work. In drawing on, and adapting for the purposes of prose fiction, something of the method perfected by Shakespeare in his two Henry IV plays, and by intermixing politics and comedy with the fictional and the historical. Scott also shaped aspects of Scottish nationhood to suit his own Unionist and basically Tory ends. He both invented tradition and used it, and if he can be blamed on the one hand with exploiting an overtly romantic view of Scotland's past, he must also be allowed to have moved the British novel towards a new seriousness and a new critical respect. In developing the form beyond the fantastic excesses of the Gothic and beyond the embryonic shape moulded by Maria Edgeworth, Scott effectively created the nineteenth-century historical novel. His creation, fostered by the universal popularity of his work, was to have vast influence over European and American literature.

When he published Waverley anonymously in 1814 Scott already possessed a high reputation as the best-selling new poet of his age. Drawing on private research, on his considerable learning, and on memories of this youth spent in the Scottish Borders, he had published the influential collection of ballads, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-3). The Minstrelsy, which went through five editions by 1812, interspersed previously uncollected folk-poetry with verse by the editor himself. Scott may have rigorously over-edited some of the original pieces, but his collection was a triumph of enterprise matched in importance only by Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). His antiquarian enthusiasms marked his entire career as a writer and a collector, but his early translations of Goethe and of German ballads, and an attachment to the history of the Borders, served to stimulate a narrative poetry of his own. The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) recounts the story of a family feud in the sixteenth century, replete with sorcery, alchemy, and metaphysical intervention. Scott's energetic, rushing metre, his varying line-length and wandering stress within the lines, and his highly effective introduction of shorter lyrics or songs into the narrative also mark three further long and involved verse tales: Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field (1808), The Lady of the Lake (1810), and Rokeby (1813). These poems achieved an immediate celebrity and retained the high esteem of succeeding Victorian generations, even, despite their length, being learnt by heart. Their glamour has now faded and, despite occasional patches of still vivid colour, the passage of time has exposed them as threadbare in terms of their subjects and their style.

Scott's novels, an epoch-making phenomenon in their won time, retain more of their original impact on readers despite a relative decline in their critical and popular esteem. His initial, highly successful, impulse to concern himself with Scottish affairs, and yet always to include the observation and experience of a pragmatic outsider (often an English man), links his first nine novels together. The shape and theme of Waverley, which is concerned with the gradual, often unwitting, involvement of a commonsensical English gentleman in the Jacobite rising of 1745 and his exposure to the thrillingly alien culture of the Highland clans, are subtly repeated, with significant variation, in Guy Mannering (1815), Old Mortality (1816), and Rob Roy (1817). It is cleverly reversed in The Heart of Midlothian (1818), a tale set in Edinburgh in the period of anti-government Porteous riots of 1736, by the device of Jeanie Deans's epic walk to London to plead for her sister's life and by the contrast drawn between the somewhat narrow puritanism of Jeanie and the sophisticated but worldly nature of the Hanoverian court. In all these novels Scott exposes his protagonists to conflicting ways of seeing, thinking, and acting; his Scotland is variously divided by factions—by Jacobites and Unionists, Covenanters and Episcopalians, Higland clansmen and urban Lowlanders—and in each he suggests an evolutionary clash of opposites, the gradual convergence of which opens up a progressive future. The fissures of Scottish history are allowed to point the way to a present in which Scotland's fortunes are inexorably bound up with those of liberal, duller, more homogeneous, shop-keeping England. The dialectic established by the narrative offers some kind of movement away from a mere nostalgia for the past and for past manners or factions. As Scott stresses in chapter 72 of Waverley, no European nation had changed so much between 1715 and 1815: 'The effects of the insurrection of 1745 . . . commenced this innovation. The gradual influx of wealth, and extension of commerce, have since united to render the present people of Scotland a class of beings as different from their grandfathers, as the existing English are from those of Queen Elizabeth's time.' In order to suggest the nature and the implications of change to his readers, Scott opens up the past by carefully establishing a picture of men and women moving naturally in a historic environment his characters are no longer represented in the fancy dress of Gothic fiction; they are shown at ease with the objects, furniture, and attitudes of their proper times. Fictional heroes encounter historical ones and are allowed to find them wanting, both being subject to the narrator's own imaginative and ideological interpretation of their development. Equally significantly, the novels present character as being shaped and determined by environment, an environment which is as much local as it is temporal, and as subject to geography as it is to history. If Scott's real sympathies lie in recording the steady triumphalism of the dominant culture, he is still a tolerant and often persuasive memorializer of lost causes and lost tribes, of dissent and of the alternative perceptions of minorities marginalized by those who hold political and intellectual sway.

In 1820, with the publication of Ivanhoe, Scott's fiction took a fresh, but not always happy, direction in moving abruptly away from Scotland and from recent, even remembered, history. Ivanhoe and two further, and far weaker, stories set in the time of the Crusades, The Talisman and The Betrothed (both 1825), form a continuous discourse which questions the origins and usefulness of the medieval code of chivalry and military honour and distantly reflects on the survival of both into the age of the French Revolution. All three novels, however, require turgidly lengthy explications of historical detail and resort to an often highly artificial dialogue in order to establish the authenticity of their twelfth-century settings. It is a fustian dialogue which contrasts vividly with the far easier evocations of home-spun, local speech which enliven the scottish fiction. Similar faults mar the otherwise lively pictures of Elizabethan England in Kenilworth (1821) and of the period of the Commonwealth in Woodstock (1826). The Fortunes of Nigel (1822) and Quentin Durward (1823) concerned respectively with the adventures of exiled Scottish knights at the courts of James I of England and Louis XI of France, are both vigorous variations on the idea of the upright innocent abroad making his way through mazes of corruption, but the finest of Scott's later works is probably Redgauntlet (1824), an investigation of the dying flame of Scottish Jacobitism seen from the divided perspective of two heroes, the phlegmatic Alan Fairford and the romantic Darsie Latimer. Sadly, illness and financial disaster overshadowed the novelist's last years and his still phenomenal output bears the marks of the strain, declining as it does into rambling, but often highly charged, experiments with material which even the polymathic Scott had not properly assimilated.

Despite the anonymity of the 'author of Waverley', a ruse which was maintained on the title-page of all of Waverley's fictional successors, the 'secret' of Scott's authorship was a thoroughly open one. In January 1821 Byron, and unstinted admirer, claimed, without a glimmer of doubt at their authorship, to have read 'all W. Scott's novels at least fifty times'. Scott was, he noted in his journal, the 'Scotch Fielding, as well as a great English poet', and he characteristically added, '—wonderful man! I long to get drunk with him'. It was Byron, properly George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), who alone managed to eclipse Scott's primacy as the best-selling poet of the second decade of the nineteenth century, but he never attempted to rival him as a novelist.

—oOo—


from Louis Cazamian, A History of English Literature

The Romantic Period, I. The first generation of poets; 5: The Poetry of Scott. II: The Novel. 1. Walter Scott

The Poetry of Scott.—

At first glance one might be led into thinking that a similar fate had befallen the poems of Southey and those of Scott (1). The latter were very popular from the moment they appeared, being eclipsed only by Byron in the public favour: their immediate and complete success marks the first official triumph of the new school. Neglected, however, after 1815, by their author himself, who had found a vaster field of activity in the novel, and overshadowed by the daring efforts of the second generation of poets, they knew a gradual decline. At the present day the general reader leaves them aside. But with unobtrusive modesty, they continue to live; and as this test of a whole century is probably decisive, everything points to a discreet survival.

They assuredly embody the intentions and influences of Romanticism; but they do not originate, as is the case with Southey's epics, in an intellectual and theoretical source: countless are the natural bonds linking them up with the Scottish soil, with a national past, with a wealth of memories and sentiments which the poet shares with his immediate compatriots, and which a spontaneous sympathy renders accessible to all British readers. The feudalism and medieval customs revived by Scott are part of a not very distant past; the clan spirit, the rich local life of a people steeped in traditions still retain something of that age; therefore the effort of imagination demanded of the reader is neither so great nor so artificial as with other writers. The Lay of the Last Minstrel is definitively placed at the end of that belated transition which joins up the Middle Ages with modern times. The atmosphere of the poem is thus created by a direct intuition in which art and archaeology commingle, blended by the fervour of a warm literary patriotism.

There is nothing, however, as yet of the atmosphere which belongs to the historical novels of Scott, with their humour, their colouring applied with a touch at once lavish and sure. The past is evoked in a spirit romantic before it is human. The choice of descriptive traits, the development of action, and the characterization are a trifle conventional. A secret complacency on the part of the author tends to incline everything towards picturesqueness, pathos, mystery, and even terror, as Scott indeed retains a trace of his youthful enthusiasm for the thrill of the German ballads and for the school of the supernatural. His Romanticism is a synthesis of all the elements which two generations have set free: imaginative emotion, the lure of the past, the taste for chivalry, a sentimental respect for warlike and religious customs, the love of nature, all of which with Scott are strongly individualized through his close familiarity with the Scottish landscape and social life.
ivanhoe

However, the dominant characteristic of these poems is to be found in their sobriety of tone. They are subservient to an essential discipline and measure. The descriptive vein is always strongly controlled; the pictures of nature, whether charming, delicate, or powerful, are never luxuriant; tragedy with Scott never reaches the stage of horror, nor is the fanciful element ever developed at the expense of an implicit logic. A faint suggestion of irony hovers at times like a smile over the narrative. The style, with its ease and liquied movement, has remarkable clarity and a striking economy of means. The verse, supple and modelled on the undulating flow of the sentiment, is of a very rhythmic quality. Scott recognized his indebtedness to the model of fluid freedom offered by the Christabel of Coleridge; but he had too sure a touch not to be a born poet. Through all these traits, the indefinable atmosphere of simplicity, wholesomeness, and truth which permeates these flights of the imagination, saving them from any extravagance, one can feel the presence of a very shrewd intellectuality. Scott is one of those semi-classicists by temperament who leave room for the continuity of tradition at the very heart of Romanticism. He is too conservative by instinct to be a thorough revolutionary in any sphere whatsoever.

The persisting charm of his chivalric epics, their lasting hold upon us, thus arise from the fact that below what is but a passing fashion they link up with a balanced, normal art, which a fresh inspiration has revivified. Yet the close proximity of the novesl will always do them harm, since they are too inferior to Scott's prose in the study and development of characters. Beside them, on the other hand, one must not forget the shorter poems—whose form is often that of the ballad—in which Scott has shown a more intense, at times outstanding, gift of lyricism. (2).

Chapter II- The Novel -

1. Walter Scott.—

The poems of Scott belonged to the first generation of Romanticists. His novels (3), in the order of chronology, belonged to the second; but the spirit animating them is still that of the first. There is no indication of their author having been influenced by the change in matters political and intellectual about 1815; he retains his opinions, his temperament, and the natural bent of his imagination. His personality is henceforth too firmly moulded to alter, but develops with greater freedom in a field of wider horizon. While the poetry of this age enlists a great number of the most brilliant talents, Scott's supremacy in the novel is sovereign. For nearly twenty years, everything is eclipsed by his work. His pages have kept an incomparable charm and youthfulness. Neither fashions nor the changes in taste have had any serious effect upon them. Whether appraised or not by enlightened opinion among the critics, they have remained truly popular, and seem almost entirely to have become part of the treasure of permanent literature, and been added to the fund itself of the national heritage.

It would be vain, however, to deny that the years have encroached upon his work. It is not all of an equal quality or resisting power; and it was not given the careful labour which alone assures perfection. It has no doubt, the happy touch, the divine facility, the wealth of a creation of genius. One feels that it wells up from a natural source; it is the outcome of a full inspiration, that has been already prepared by the assimilative play of memory, the activity of thought, the continual exercising of the imagination during half a lifetime. Scott was intimately acquainted with the past of Scotland, which he had explored in documents, history, and legend; he had lived through it again by calling it up in its original setting, and had given it the reality of concrete form by discovering its latent presence in the manners, traditions, and language, in all the existing originality of a people. This unconscious preparation had been so long and full that from the day when the novelist and not the poet laid it under contribution for pictures of a more ample scope, it appeared to be inexhaustible. In it lies the deep value of these reconstructions of history, and by investing them with the gift of life, which it has rendered possible, it supplies them with the atmosphere of a full-flavoured humanity. But Scott certainly allowed himself to be led away too much by the ease of rapid invention; and probably it is to this cause that must be traced, along with the few lapses in form, some more internal flaws which time has brought into prominence.

These are nearly all reducible to certain insufficiencies of the writer's art, to devices which are too facile. In the century which has followed, both the technique of the novel and the requirements of the reader have come to be modified; over and above the theories of the moment, a substantial agreement has been reached concerning some demands which might prove to be of a lasting character. We require sober truth, an objective outlook upon things, or if the writer's fancy and sensibility become a law unto themselves, we are loath to let them have the benefit of an optimism which savours too much of banal convention to be interesting. Fiction plays too important a part in the novel of Scott, and especially the fiction which does not wish to be treated as such. No one save the specialist suffers from the liberties he takes with historical details. The conception of truth, with him, has not yet acquired the scrupulous exactitude which the whole activity of thought in the nineteenth century will impart to it. But the cordial good-naturedness which lends so much winning charm to his work cannot excuse the too easy complacency of his critical sense or artistic conscience. The author is too frequently butting in upon the story; the monologues of the characters, the set conversations of those who rise above the ordinary rank, lose all semblance of reality. The creation of atmosphere in the novels is brought about by a series of conjunctures which too obviously reveal a common end. An aesthetic and moral Providence carries on the story, leading it towards a conclusion which flatters a sentimental and moral preconception no doubt quite worthy in itself, but from which it would seem that a more severe taste has gradually receded. The conventional treatment of love themes, as of the characterization of young heroes and heroines, is in keeping with the fanciful tone of the plots, at least in some of their parts. There is in this whole series of effects a perspective such as that of the theatre, allowable, no doubt, as long as the treatment of truth is only summarily and superficially faithful, but here at variance with the deep and exacting spirit of accuracy that in every other respect animates the realistic imagination of Scott.

It must be recognized, however, that he benefits by the quality of his fault; his art has about it a genuine simplicity, an unpretentiousness, that are restful after the strained objectivity of recent schools. And such blemishes are of slight import; they set a date upon the art of Scott, without ageing it. The only consequence is that the reader must more clearly and more consciously accept the part played by artifice, by one main fiction and by some derived postulates, in the production of an illusion which can in fact never be complete.

The essential point is that this illusion, in far the majority of cases, and if nothing intervenes to impair the normal elasticity of our sense of the real, is a wonderful success. Scott makes us live again in past centuries, and makes innumerable human beings of his invention visible, familiar, and akin to ourselves; whether he entirely creates them, or re-creates their souls and borrows their names from history. His work is one of the happiest attempts ever made to evoke what is no longer extant; it owes its triumph to the imaginative intuition which Romanticism had stimulated, but also to a psychological truth that is sufficiently deep, and to a grasp of man's nature that is broad enough, to satisfy the needs of our minds more constant than a taste for purely historical truth.

The novels form unequal groups according to their themes, varyng in number as in value. Scott loses his force as he wanders from the solid ground of contemporary reality, and from those features of it which are of a durable enough nature to be looked upon as ancient; it is thorugh the present that he interprets and reconstructs the past. Therefore, the periods he chooses by preference are not very remote; his favourite domain stretches from the Reformation to the last civil struggles of the eighteenth century. He organizes his subjects round the great religious or political conflicts which during these two hundred years most seriously impaired the moral unity of the Scottish people; and as the Romanticism of feeling and imagination is above all attracted by lost causes, it is to Puritanism and to the allegiance of the Jacobites that through the force of the tale the involuntary sympathies of the reader are often drawn; a solid proof of the remarkable impartiality of Scott, who as a Tory and a friend of order retained some kindly feelings for the Stuarts, but who reproved fanaticism without reserve. It was his desire to keep the scales even, to grant to all parties and men the same kindly interest, and here he was almost always successful.

The novels which transport us to England or the Continent, and abandon the opening years of the modern era for the Middle Ages, betray this effort more distinctly; they reach their aim less completely: yet they accomplish some very fine feats; although historians do not spare certain aspects of Ivanhoe, they praise the atmosphere of the work, while it is generally agreed that the light shed upon Louis XI and his time by Quentin Durward is not to be disparaged. But still, when all is considered, there are no achievements in this kind which can come up to the scenes enacted in those lowland districts of Scotland, so beloved and cherished by Scott; and for example, to the episodes whose setting is the capital (The Heart of Midlothian, etc.). In the same way, the landscape is evoked with a poetic freshness, which is devoid of all impassioned ardour of exuberance; the description of nature, within these limits, is more widely treated in Scott's prose than in his verse; but the stretches of heath, the peat-lands, the wild valleys of Scotland are more accurately, more forcefully depicted than the vast forests of feudal England.

Set thus in a framework of events largely fictitious, which, however, our sense of truth approves, and standing out against a background of nature and manners which are sufficiently rich in detail to be convincing, picturesque enought to be attractive, and the authority of which is chiefly derived from a national and intimate feeling of sympathetic familiarity, Scott's personages win our full approbation; there is no resisting their vitality. They offer a complete range of characterization, from the most rapid sketches to the most carefully executed portraits; their abundance and diversity astonish us. Their physical being, and the salient peculiarities of their moral being, are what always determine them. At times the analysis goes further, probing to the depths, and aiming at the most individual shades; but Scott is not preoccupied with the psychology that penetrates; he does not seek for complicated tangles of the soul, and consequently hardly comes upon any; on occasion he will be easily satisfied indeed. In certain cases he has desired to make a more searching analysis of a character, and has done so; but as a rule he sums up at one stroke the personality which interests him, grasps it with a vigorous hold, and draws its physiognomy with a broad, firm touch; and having once animated it, he leaves it to radiate the life thus given it to the very end. In this way his characters do not change.

His most unforgettable creations are those of episodic or simple personages, who are devoid of all mystery, and who reveal themselves wholly to us in one flash. Despite the attraction of some impressive figures of rebels, ruined noblemen, and chieftains, it is the ordinary people, such as peasants, shopkeepers, housewives, and servants, who constitute, by virtue of the artisitic relief and intensity of touch with which they are painted, his richest and most attractive gallery of portraits.

And this is because the humbler classes can best voice the humour of Scott. higher up in the social scale, moral dignity imposes a restraint upon the freedom implied in the expression of that humour. It implies a realism of method, an openness in the display of originality, a conscious and discreet revelation of oneself, an art of apparent naïveté and secret roguishness, which scarcely harmonize with the circumspection and reserve of refined manners. In its very essence it savours of the people. It has its roots in a full sense of life, in the experience of all the illogicality which its complexity conceals, in an alert attention to all the perceptible elements through which the solution of his problems reveals itself, in a spontaneously concrete appreciation of the qualities and paradoxes of things.

This deep fertilizing force of the Scottish mind makes its presence felt in all Scott's creations; it is the sole support of whole scenes, episodes, and characters, and is more or less intermingles with nearly all the other sources of interest. His pathos itself is rarely without an after-taste of it. Even the poet's thought elaborates and refines it, and makes it the spiritual aroma of his philosophy. This is the element which imparts to his work an all-pervading spirit of kingliness and light irony, and which tempers the satire with indulgence, the sympathy with amusement. At this degree of superior concentration, humour acts as a kind of twofold wisdom, blending, correcting, and especially relieving the one by means of the other, the bitterness of clear discernment and the sweetness of charity. This suppleness of a judgment which is ever conscious of what is relative becomes reflected in an expression intentionally transposed, which chooses indirect ways because the hearer derives an added pleasure from unravelling them, and because they better comply with the essential scepticism of a soul that refuses to be dogmatically absorbed in one set mode of feeling. Scott's humour has a ring of Scottish shrewdness and kindliness about it. This note is to be heard throughout his work, and lends a character of unity to the vast comedy of existence; it assumes a different key according to the environment, the age, and the sex of the persons who are shown to us; but a stronger affinity gives all its clearness and charm in the language of simple folks; and the dialect of Scotland, in various degrees of raciness and purity, is intimately associated with it in its effects of full-flavoured and sly rusticity.

The passages in which this dialect predominates offer special difficulty to the uninitiated reader; but this is easily overcome; and at once, one comes to prefer them. Here it is that the language of Scott enjoys all its advantages. Its easy manner harmonizes with a familiar form of speech. In other places, it has great merits, and lends itself freely to lively or sustained narration, to description, to pathos, to reflections of a moralizing nature; but it does not keep up all these tones with an equal felicity, or rather there are some among these tones which are not happy in themselves.The edifying reflections, and interventions on the part of the author, imply at times a slightly artificial dignity; one finds there, as it were, a vein of phraseology still permeated with the spirit of the eighteenth century, which impairs the otherwise sound quality of a simple, direct style.

On the whole, the superficial flaws in form do not detract in any way from the deep merits of the work. Scott has the genius of the narrator; but he has the corresponding talent no less, and his tale is carried on by a very supple and very steady art, which sets up, develops, and works out to a final close, through a very varied series of moments, a symphonic composition of sovereing bredth. Incidents, pauses, picturesque evocations, and dialogues are interwoven with an instinctive, sure sense of measure; and the semblance of reality which characterizes the various exchanges of talk, especially in the popular scenes, nearly always succeeds in at once convincing us.

The novel of Scott represents a triumph of Romanticism in the imaginative recreation of the past, associated with all the diverse emotions which the tragic or comic drama of life can awaken. It therefore takes the place of the theatre, in which the literature of this period has produced no masterpieces. Certain of the inner tendencies of Romanticism are here exploited to the limit, such as the liking for bygone ages, the luring of the reader's interest away from the present, the dramatic vision of life; it has even its touch of the supernatural and the mysterious (The Bride of Lammermoor, Redgauntlet, etc.). But by virtue of its humour, its sense of balance, the mental calm and self-posssession it implies, it can also claim kinship with the psychological characteristics of classicism. By bringing Romanticism so near to the real and complete life of every day as to confound the one with the other, even if that life be a vanished and miraculously restored one, Scott has given Romanticism an average and normal value, a soundness, an immunity from any feverishness, that it does not possess even in the poetry of a Wordsworth.


2. Realism; Adventure and Terror in the Novel.—

Despite the illusion created by its superiority, Scott's work in the novel is not isolated, cut off from that of his contemporaries. He recognized his indebtedness to the Irish scenes of Miss Edgeworth (4). Amongst his numerous and mediocre imitators, one should make mention of Galt (5), who in the course of an uncertain career had himself conceived before Scott the idea of exploiting the picturesqueness of Scottish life, but to whom the Waverley novels came as an encouragement and exmple. His best studies are confined to ordinary and familiar ascpects of life; and by feeing this new form of literature from all the historical elements of Romanticism, they turn it in the direction of a minute, humorous, and tenderly inspired realism.

Among the diverse elements brought together in the work of Scott, it is indeed the realism which undoubtedly, after the history, proves the greatest force of attraction. Even in the success of imaginative fiction, literture retains its appreciation of concrete reality; and the distinctive feature of the Romantic novel, as a whole, lies in the boldness with which it adds new provinces to reality. The popularity of Hook (6) is due to the fact that he resolutely brings a democratic and modern spirit to bear upon his atmosphere and subject-matter. Marryat (7) revives the tradition of Sterne and Smollett; to the lively interest of his tale he adds a rich vein of humour, and by his painting of seafaring folks and theif life he has conquered a field in which he remains one of the masters. Miss Mitford (8), in her charming studies of village customs, her landscape descriptions, as exact as they are poetic, foreshadows both the Cranford of Mrs. Gaskell and the work of Richard Jefferies. Lastly, the psychological realism of Jane Austen is handled with a much less delicate touch, and with some worldliness, but not without force, by Mrs. Gore (9).

Meanwhile, the most characteristic, though not the most brilliant, type of Romantic novel, the model of which had been supplied by Mrs. Radcliffe and Lewis, continues to prosper. The supernatural with all its terror is still popular. This branch of literature, very fertile in itself but poor artistically, reaches one of the culminating points in its development with the Melmoth of Maturin (10), a work of striking intensity. The Frankenstein of Mrs. Shelley (11) rises above the mere search after the common thrill of fear; here terror is idealized by being fused with the scientific and philosophical anguish of thought. Through this intermediary we understand the link which exists between this ardour of sensitive imagination and the cult of the emotions, common to the great lyrical poets of the period. Just as Southey, Coleridge, and Scott had all contributed to the collective stimulation which gave us the Tales of Terror by Lewis (1801), we find in Mrs. Shelley's fiction the passionate curiosity as to what lies beyond, the preoccupied interest in the marvellous and the morbid, which entered into Byron and Shelley's daily life during their sojourn in Switzerland (1816).





Notes


(1). Walter Scott, born in Edinburgh in 1771, the son of a lawyer, had his imagination fired from the earliest years by the traditions of southern Scotland. He studied at the university of his native town and prepared for the Bar; but his literary vocation was revealed to him in the course of the rambles taken to collect legends and ballads. He learned German, translated the Lenore of Bürger (1795), the Goetz of Goethe (1799), collaborated in the Tales of Wonder of Lewis (1801): published a collection of popular poetry. The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1802-3; then original poems: The Lay of the Last Minstrel, 1805; Marmion, 1808; The Lady of the Lake, 1810; The Vision of Don Roderick, 1811; Rokeby, 1813; The Bridal of Triermain, 1813; The Lord of the Isles, 1815; Harold the Dauntless, 1817. After the publication of Waverley, 1814, he devoted his chief attention to the novel; but he still composed numerous short poems (Miscellaneous Poems, 1820; Poetry contained in the Novels, etc., of the Author of Waverley, 1822, etc.). For the rest of his work see below, Chap. II. Poetical Works, ed. by Robertson, 1904; ed. by Lang, 1905; Selections, ed. by A. H. Thompson, 1922. See Veitch, Feeling for Nature in Scottish Poetry, 1887, vol. ii; Morgan, Scott and His Poetry, 1913; Franke, Der Stil in den epischen Dichtungen Scotts, 1909; Sarrazin, Poètes modernes d'Angleterre, 1884; Margraf, Der Einfluss der deutschen Litteratur auf die englische, etc., 1901.

(2). With this generation must be connected the delicate, intimate effusions of Charles Lamb, who was closely associated with the enthusiasm, theories, and projects of Coleridge and his group. His best poems, with their nostalgic emotion, their penetrating simplicity, recall Blake and Wordsworth, but possess, at the same time, an original note. (For the prose work of Lamb, see below, Chap. V). The Works in Prose and Verxe of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. by Hutchinson, 1908. And among poets of less personal significance, such as Charles Lloyd, there is a more distinct figure, Henry Kirke White (1785-1806) whose early death at 21 took on a symbolic value for this Romantic age. Remains, ed. by Southey, 1807-22; Poems, etc., ed. by Drinkwater, 1908.

(3). The prose work of Sir Walter Scott comprises novels: Waverley, 1814; Guy Mannering, 1815; The Antiquary, 1816; Tales of my Landlord (Old Mortality, 1816; The Heart of Midlothian, 1818; The Bride of Lammermoor, 1819); Rob Roy, 1818; Ivanhoe, 1820; The Monastery, 1820; The Abbot, 1820; Kenilworth, 1821; The Pirate, 1822; The Fortunes of Nigel, 1822; Peveril of the Peak, 1822; Quentin Durward, 1823; St. Ronan's Well, 1824; Redgauntlet, 1824; Tales of the Crusades, 1825; Woodstock, 1826; Chronicles of the Canongate, 1827-28; Anne of Geierstein, 1829; Tales of My Landlord (4th series), 1832. These remained anonymous until almost the last of the series had been published, although the author's identity had been surmised. Their success made Scott a wealthy man, and he led a princely existence in his luxurious abode at Abbotsford; but owing to the failure of a publisher, he had to consecrate the last ten years of his life to exhausting labours. He died in 1832, leaving among other writings: The Border Antiquities of England and Scotland, 1814-17, and Provincial Antiquities of Scotland, 1819-26; Lives of the Novelists (Ballantyne's Novelists' Library), 1821-4; Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, 1827; Tales of a Grandfather, 1828-31; History of Scotland, 1829-30. He edited numerous texts, notably, The Works of Dryden, 1808; The Works of Swift, 1814. His Journal (1825-32) was published by Douglas, 1890; Familiar Letters, 1894. The Waverley Novels, Border Edition, A. Lang, 1892-4. Oxford Edition, 1912. Most of the novels have been edited (with notes, etc.) separately. See the numerous biographies (by Lockhart, 1837-8; Hutton, 1878; Yonge, 1888; Norgate, 1906, etc.). Studies by Saintsbury, 1897; Maigron (Le Roman historique, etc., essai sur l'influence de Walter Scott), 1898; Cross (Development of the English Novel, 1899); Hudson, 1901; Lang, 1906; Wyndham, 1908; Elton (Survey of English Literature), 1920; Stalker (The Intimate Life of Sir Walter Scott, 1921); The Letters of Sir Walter Scott, ed. by H. J. C. Grierson, 1932, etc.

(4). See above, Book IV, Chap VI, sect. 2; and the preface to the Waverley novels, edition of 1829.

(5). John Galt, 1779-1839, born in the south-west of Scotland, led an eventflul life and produced a very large number of diverse works. The Annals of the Parish was written before Waverley, but remained unpublished until 1821. See also The Ayrshire Legatees, 1821; The Entail, 1823. Similarly Susan Ferrier (1782-1854) wrote her first novel before reading those fo Scott, but was one of the latter's literary followers (Marriage, 1818; The Inheritance, 1824; Destiny, 1831). With Croly, James, Ainsworth, Scott's influence is continued after 1830.

(6). Theodore Hook, 1788-1841, dramatist, improvisator, etc., published nine volums of short stories, Sayings and Doings, 1824-8; numerous novels, including Jack Brag, 1837.

(7). Frederick Marryat, 1792-1848, after a career as a naval officer, began with Frank Mildmay (1829) a long series of sea novels, including Peter Simple, 1834; Midshipman Easy, 1836, etc. See Life and Letters, 1872; study by Hannay, 1889.

(8). Mary Russell Mitford, 1787-1855, wrote for the stage with creditable success; but it is to her simple, fresh sketches of provincial life (Our Village, Sketches of Rural Character and Scenery, 1819-32) that she owes her privileged place in English hearts. In her descriptions of nature there is a strong local colouring, and the current of regional literature in the nineteenth century has one of its sources in her work, as in that of Scott or Galt. See her Recollections of a Literary Life, 1852; the study by C. Hill (Mary Russell Mitford and Her Surroundings), 1920; Mary Russell Mitford, her Circle, etc., by M. Astin, 1931.

(9). C. G. F. Gore, 1799-1861; Mothers and Daughters, 1831; Mrs. Armytage, 1836.

(10). Charles Robert Maturin, 1782-1824; The Fatal Revenge, 1807; Melmoth the Wanderer, 1820. For his influence in France, see Ch. Bonnier, Milieux d'Art, 1910; A. M. Millen, Le Roman terrifiant, etc. 1915; and study by N. Idman, 1924.

(11). Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, daughter of Godwin, 1797-1851; Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, 1817; The Last Man, 1826.




To be consulted:

Birkhead, The Tale of Terror, 1921, Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. XI, Chap XIII, vol. xii, Chaps. I and XVI; Cross,
Development of the English Novel, 1899; Elton, Survey of English Literature, 1780-1830, 1920; Killen, Le Roman terrifiant, etc., 1915; Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir W. Scott, etc., new edition, 1903; Maigron, Le Roman historique à l'époque romantique, 1898; Olcott, The Country of Sir Walter Scott, 1913; Scarborough, The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction, 1917; Veitch, History and Poetry of the Scottish Border, 2nd edition, 1893.



 

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