Books Sir Wal­ter Scott and the pol­i­tics be­hind in­vent­ing the his­tor­i­cal novel

With the his­tor­i­cal novel un­der­go­ing a re­vival, Kathryn Suther­land con­sid­ers the writer who in­vented the genre in its mod­ern form

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - The Times Literary Sup­ple­ment

LOOK­ING back over his ca­reer as the ‘‘ au­thor of Waver­ley’’, Wal­ter Scott ad­mit­ted that ‘‘ in the pen of this name­less ro­mancer, I seemed to pos­sess some­thing like the se­cret foun­tain of coined gold and pearls vouch­safed to the trav­eller of the East­ern Tale’’. In his hey­day, he was the Great Un­known and the Wizard of the North; be­fore he was a best­selling nov­el­ist he was a stranger en­tity, a best­selling poet whose verse ro­mance The Lady of the Lake (1810) sold 30,000 copies in a year. By his pen, he built a suc­cess­ful busi­ness em­pire and a huge per­sonal for­tune, through time writ­ing him­self into great wealth and out of in­sol­vency as the dra­matic twists of his life came to re­sem­ble the heroic strug­gles of one of his fic­tions.

Scott wrote 27 nov­els at as­ton­ish­ing speed (in some in­stances, a novel in as lit­tle as eight weeks) be­tween 1814 and 1831, while pur­su­ing other literary ac­tiv­i­ties and ‘‘ by-jobs’’. All were is­sued, in the­ory, anony­mously un­der elab­o­rate con­di­tions of se­crecy un­til 1827, when the ‘‘ au­thor of Waver­ley’’ was forced into the open. Waver­ley, the first of his nov­els, pub­lished in a stan­dard edi­tion of 1000 copies, was a run­away suc­cess, with sec­ond and third edi­tions to­talling 4000 copies in a mat­ter of months.

But the se­cret was al­ways open: as early as Septem­ber 1814, in a Hamp­shire vil­lage, the rel­a­tively un­known Jane Austen ob­served to her niece that ‘‘ Wal­ter Scott has no busi­ness to write nov­els, es­pe­cially good ones. — He has Fame & Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be tak­ing the bread out of other peo­ple’s mouths.’’

Scott’s an­nual novel prof­its were es­ti­mated in 1818 at a colos­sal £10,000. At the height of his pop­u­lar­ity, print runs of 12,000 copies were sell­ing out in weeks, with sec­ond im­pres­sions called for be­fore the first was clear of the press. Against this, Austen’s fourth novel, Emma, ap­peared in a healthy first im­pres­sion of 2000 copies in De­cem­ber 1815, of which 539 were still on her publisher’s hands in 1820.

Scott in­vented the his­tor­i­cal novel in its mod­ern form and he in­flu­enced the writ­ing of his­tory, his­tor­i­cal fic­tion and the Euro­pean and Amer­i­can novel for a cen­tury at least. As a child of the En­light­en­ment, he took the long view, trac­ing the ori­gins of the present in the dis­tant past and draw­ing on a range of sources, from le­gal tes­ta­ment to folk­lore and bal­lads.

Scott’s sub­ject is al­ways his­tory, but Scot­land’s Stuart or Ja­co­bite past fired his imag­i­na­tion. Stuart his­tory in­forms a re­mark­able se­ries of nov­els that stretches in or­der of com­po­si­tion from Waver­ley through The Black Dwarf, Old Mor­tal­ity, Rob Roy, The Bride of Lam­mer­moor and fi­nally to Redgaunt­let; in or­der of his­tor­i­cal set­ting, from the Bat­tle of Both­well Bridge in 1679, through the ris­ings of 1715 and 1745, and out of his­tory into fic­tion with Redgaunt­let, whose sub­ject is the imag­ined event of a third Ja­co­bite ris­ing in 1765.

In novel af­ter novel, the old is pit­ted against the new: the de­sire for the past against the in­evitable forces of change. Old Mor­tal­ity, as im­pres­sive and per­sis­tently rel­e­vant as any his­tor­i­cal novel writ­ten since, is a study of po­lit­i­cal tyranny pit­ted against re­li­gious ex­trem­ism, of sec­tar­ian war, in which the ‘‘ in­di­vid­ual fate’’ of its typ­i­cally mod­er­ate hero, Henry Mor­ton, is ‘‘ bound up in that of a na­tional in­sur­rec­tion and rev­o­lu­tion’’.

In nov­els set as far apart in time as Quentin Dur­ward, The For­tunes of Nigel, The Bride of Lam­mer­moor, Rob Roy and Guy Man­ner­ing, wealth amassed in busi­ness is mea­sured against the once solid pat­ri­mony of land and in­her­ited es­tates seen now at their most en­dan­gered, hedged round by debt. Con­trasted re­gional set­tings de­lib­er­ately blur the co-or­di­nates of space and time; the sym­bolic to­pogra­phies of wild high­land land­scape and do­mes­ti­cated low­lands, of ru­ined an­ces­tral home and bustling count­ing-house, of past and present.

What­ever the pe­riod, Scott’s sub­ject is the bro­ken al­le­giance be­tween the old aris­toc­racy and the folk, and the sense of a com­mu­nity ad­just­ing to new com­mer­cial re­la­tions.

Yet a Scott nar­ra­tive of­ten re­solves the op­po­si­tion of old and new in seem­ingly con­trary fash­ion, as es­tates are re­stored to lost heirs, old houses are re­built and shat­tered re­la­tions are mended, with new money foot­ing the bill. On his Bor­der es­tate, Scott traded the earn­ings of nov­el­writ­ing for the solid rep­re­sen­ta­tions of lineage. Oral tra­di­tion and fam­ily tales were the raw ma­te­ri­als he trans­formed into print, ex­changed for money and sub­se­quently in­vested in his feu­dal fan­tasy as Laird of Ab­bots­ford.

Scott se­cured his prof­its sev­eral times over. From 1805, he was co-part­ner with his school­friend James Ballantyne in the firm that would print most of his nov­els. Be­tween 1816 and 1821, at the height of his pop­u­lar­ity, he was sole pro­pri­etor, in­tro­duc­ing the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy of steam-pow­ered presses and gen­er­ally modernising the plant.

Jede­diah Cleish­botham, one of Scott’s many prose dis­guises, ex­poses this writ­ing busi­ness in the open­ing pages of The Heart of Mid-Loth­ian, com­posed in 1817-18 dur­ing the first ma­jor phase of build­ing at Ab­bots­ford, where in his ad­dress to the reader he equates the ‘‘ turns of for­tune’’ that the nar­ra­tive de­lin­eates with his own up­turn in for­tune — a sec­ond storey to his house and a new coat — hav­ing dis­posed so prof­itably of this lat­est fic­tion. As Scott him­self put it at the time, de­scrib­ing his lat­est land deal to James’s brother John Ballantyne: ‘‘ I have closed with Usher for his beau­ti­ful pat­ri­mony which makes me a great laird. I am afraid the peo­ple will take me up for coin­ing. In­deed th­ese nov­els while their at­trac­tions last are some­thing like it.’’

Scott’s at­trac­tions lasted through the 19th cen­tury. But now, when good his­tor­i­cal fic­tion is en­joy­ing a re­vival, he re­mains the Great Un­read. It is not the length of his books that de­ters but their style. For all their ro­mance, Scott’s heavy­duty blend of his­tory and fic­tion weights his nov­els to­wards re­al­ism and even ab­strac­tion; and Scott’s re­al­ism is an anx­iously de­fended po­si­tion, made up of mul­ti­ple voices and dif­fer­ent modes of dis­course that too of­ten frus­trate the reader’s ab­sorp­tion in the tale be­ing told. The team of pseudony­mous ed­i­tor-his­to­ri­ans do­ing ser­vice first to the ‘‘ au­thor of Waver­ley’’ and later to his ri­val iden­tity as au­thor of Tales of My Land­lord ex­ists to au­then­ti­cate the nar­ra­tives they in­tro­duce, to per­son­alise them. But their ten­den­tious schol­ar­ship places an in­vented frame around works that in­ter­nally bris­tle with cross-ref­er­ences to au­thor­i­ties and sources. Re­al­ity checks slow down sto­ries while their cre­den­tials are in­spected.

From the start, Scott glossed Scots di­alect words for his south­ern au­di­ence, but his English he­roes like Ed­ward Waver­ley and Lovel (in The An­ti­quary) speak a high nov­e­l­ese that causes the mod­ern reader as much be­wil­der­ment.

The chal­lenge, as Scott saw it, is lin­guis­tic and in­tel­lec­tual: a vi­sion of his­tory that is fully rep­re­sen­ta­tive must give voice to dis­parate kinds and ac­counts of ex­pe­ri­ence. Scott is im­pres­sive when he imag­ines the great fig­ures of his­tory: the dis­con­nected po­lit­i­cal suavity of Charles Ed­ward Stuart, the ruth­less­ness of the fallen an­gel Gra­ham of Claver­house.

Lan­guage leaps into life in the elo­quence of his com­mon­ers and folk: the Gypsy Meg Mer­rilies de­nounc­ing the Laird of El­lan­gowan in Guy Man­ner­ing; the speech pat­terns (from psy­chotic to self-sac­ri­fic­ing and self-serv­ing) of the mil­i­tant Covenan­ters of Old Mor­tal­ity. The ca­dences of bal­lad and Bi­ble are in their mouths. Scott, too, is a fine sto­ry­teller: aban­don­ing the

The Ed­in­burgh Edi­tion of the Waver­ley Nov­els By Sir Wal­ter Scott Edited by David He­witt Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity Press, 30 vol­umes, 14,972pp, $3720 (HB)

tem­po­ris­ing and con­tex­tu­al­is­ing mode of the his­to­rian for the lo­cal and dis­rup­tive voice, in Wan­der­ing Wil­lie’s Tale and The Two Drovers he dis­cov­ers a tighter fic­tional de­sign.

But what is miss­ing is a now fa­mil­iar ex­pec­ta­tion that a fic­tional char­ac­ter will em­body a set of men­tal and emo­tional pro­cesses: specif­i­cally, the sense that his mod­er­ate he­roes will reg­is­ter in­ter­nally the con­flicts they wit­ness; that they will have an in­ner life.

Scott’s in­stincts and train­ing were his­tor­i­cal, even an­ti­quar­ian; he favoured an­no­ta­tion and in­for­ma­tion. As a young man he raided the re­mote re­gion of Lid­des­dale for tra­di­tional bor­der bal­lads, edited with es­says and notes in 1802-03 as Min­strelsy of the Scot­tish Bor­der; and he ended his ca­reer by edit­ing his own nov­els, cor­rect­ing their texts and ex­pli­cat­ing them with new in­tro­duc­tions and ap­pen­dices. This was the col­lected edi­tion of the Waver­ley nov­els, the ‘‘ grande opus’’ or ‘‘ Mag­num Opus’’ as he called it, and a model for later nov­el­ists to re­shape their work in col­lected form: the Charles Dick­ens Edi­tion and the Wes­sex Edi­tion of the works of Thomas Hardy.

Scott worked at the Mag­num be­tween 1828 and 1831, us­ing spe­cially pre­pared in­ter­leaved copies of ear­lier edi­tions. It was is­sued se­ri­ally in 48 vol­umes, one a month, be­tween 1829 and 1833. But Scott had died, worn out by his pun­ish­ing writ­ing sched­ule, in Septem­ber 1832, the month that saw the pub­li­ca­tion of Vol­ume 40, the sec­ond part of Wood­stock.

The Ed­in­burgh Edi­tion of the Waver­ley Nov­els is, af­ter the Mag­num, the most ex­ten­sive tex­tual re­con­sid­er­a­tion of Scott’s nov­els and the first fully crit­i­cal edi­tion. It has taken more than 20

HE TOOK THE LONG VIEW, TRAC­ING THE ORI­GINS OF THE PRESENT IN THE DIS­TANT PAST

years to com­plete and is con­tained in 30 vol­umes: 27 nov­els with a vol­ume each, a vol­ume of short sto­ries, and the in­tro­duc­tions and notes from the Mag­num col­lected in two fi­nal vol­umes. On pub­li­ca­tion, the Mag­num be­came the stan­dard ver­sion of the nov­els, the ver­sion in which Scott’s Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian read­er­ship en­joyed him.

The EEWN has stripped away the in­ter­ven­tions of the el­derly and ail­ing self-ed­i­tor, the proto-Vic­to­rian Scott of the Mag­num, of­fer­ing in their place a text based on a re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the first printed edi­tions as bet­ter serv­ing the au­thor’s orig­i­nal con­cep­tion. It re­pro­duces for a new read­er­ship some­thing like the ver­sion of each novel that cap­ti­vated its first read­ers.

An early form of the gen­eral in­tro­duc­tion to the EEWN by ed­i­tor-in-chief David He­witt ar­gued boldly that the edi­tion rep­re­sents a ‘‘ re­turn to au­then­tic Scott’’, the ‘‘ cre­ative power which took Bri­tain, Europe and Amer­ica by storm’’ be­fore be­ing ‘‘ cabin’d, cribb’d, con­fin’d by its Mag­num con­text’’. Later vol­umes print a re­vised state­ment, worded more cau­tiously, but they do not re­nege on the com­mit­ment to cre­ate an ‘‘ ideal first edi­tion’’, whose base is the first printed edi­tion with re­stored read­ings from the ear­lier manuscript stage and a sys­tem­atic scru­tiny of the pro­duc­tion process in­ter­ven­ing be­tween manuscript and first edi­tion.

As He­witt and in­di­vid­ual vol­ume ed­i­tors ad­mit, this is a daunt­ing task. There are two chal­lenges fac­ing the ed­i­tor of a Scott novel: too much ma­te­rial, in the form of life­time states of the text; and too many le­git­i­mate in­ter­ven­tions into the text, the re­sult of the se­crecy un­der which most of the nov­els were turned into print.

The first vol­umes ( The Black Dwarf, The Tale of Old Mor­tal­ity and Ke­nil­worth) ap­peared in 1993, the fi­nal vol­umes in 2012; the project has its un­der­pin­ning in He­witt’s ar­ti­cle of 1988, ‘‘ Scott and Tex­tual Mul­ti­ple­poind­ing’’, and the ex­ten­sive Guide for Ed­i­tors com­piled by the ed­i­to­rial board un­der He­witt’s di­rec­tion and pub­lished in 1996. Mul­ti­ple­poind­ing, a term from Scots law, pro­vides a strat­egy rather than a fixed pol­icy de­ter­min­ing ed­i­to­rial de­ci­sions. A mul­ti­ple­poind­ing is an ac­tion raised by the holder of a fund or prop­erty to which there are sev­eral claimants, who are thereby re­quired to come to­gether to set­tle their claims in court.

The term is ap­po­site: Scott was a Scot­tish lawyer; his nov­els are pep­pered with the rhetoric of Scots law; it is a metaphor that ex­pli­cates the imag­i­na­tive and com­mer­cial ap­pa­ra­tus that brought the nov­els to mar­ket and hid Scott’s iden­tity. His 18th-cen­tury re­luc­tance to ac­cede to­tally to the il­lu­sion of fic­tion meant that he wrote into his nov­els a so­cia­ble model of pro­duc­tion, del­e­gat­ing to sur­ro­gate ed­i­tors and sto­ry­tellers the var­i­ous parts of his own unique imag­i­na­tive labour.

In re­al­ity, he also par­tic­i­pated in a set of elab­o­rate pro­cesses de­signed to screen his au­thor­ship and dis­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cant au­thor­ity among ‘‘ in­ter­me­di­aries’’ (a col­lec­tive term used by the EEWN for amanu­enses, house read­ers, com­pos­i­tors and the printer and ed­i­to­rial ad­viser James Ballantyne) who worked with con­sid­er­able li­cence to turn manuscript into print.

Some claims on the Scott text are eas­ier to dis­miss than oth­ers: mis­read­ings, mis­un­der­stand­ings and, on oc­ca­sion, Ballantyne’s con­sci­en­tious if pedes­trian in­ter­ven­tions at proof stage. He it was who fa­mously per­suaded Scott dur­ing the orig­i­nal writ­ing to bring Athel­stane back from the dead in the clos­ing pages of Ivan­hoe — a piece of daft­ness so in­te­gral to the text that it must be kept. But what Peter Gar­side de­scribes in the EEWN Guy Man­ner­ing as the ‘‘ rougher feel’’, the sense of ‘‘ im­me­di­acy and lin­guis­tic range’’ of an edi­tion that draws read­ings from the first cre­ative manuscript phase can also aptly de­scribe the per­mit­ted in­put of the in­ter­me­di­aries. If the gen­eral ef­fect of print was to flat­ten Scott’s heav­ily be-dashed, rhetor­i­cal manuscript punc­tu­a­tion, the vis­i­ble trace of a ‘‘ cre­at­ing mind [that] seems to have been oral’’ (GAM Wood and He­witt’s de­scrip­tion of the manuscript of Redgaunt­let), print was also ex­pected to en­liven di­alect by sub­sti­tut­ing Scots or­tho­graphic forms for those ren­dered as stan­dard English in Scott’s hand.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Scots speech is a vexed is­sue, with au­thor­ity shift­ing be­tween au­thor and in­ter­me­di­aries, and some pas­sages ben­e­fit­ing from print in­ter­pre­ta­tion. While gen­er­ally ob­serv­ing the first-edi­tion punc­tu­a­tion of the in­ter­me­di­aries, EEWN ed­i­tors feel free to re­store manuscript dashes to high­light emo­tional or bro­ken speech pat­terns, and more than 600 ar­chaisms are rein­serted from the manuscript into the me­dieval tale of Ivan­hoe, Scott’s first novel with an English set­ting.

Here is the prob­lem: how to sift the ev­i­dence and ad­ju­di­cate be­tween claimants; how to weigh au­tho­rial against au­tho­ri­ally del­e­gated in­ter­ven­tions into the text. Cru­cially, with the ma­jor ex­cep­tions of Waver­ley, A Leg­end of Mon­trose and Ivan­hoe, Scott’s holo­graph manuscripts sur­vive in abun­dance; he is among the first Bri­tish nov­el­ists for whom we have rich manuscript de­posits. In some in­stances they show thou­sands of ver­bal and struc­tural dif­fer­ences from the first edi­tions, seem­ing to throw doubt on the cir­cum­stances of post-au­tho­rial pro­duc­tion, and to pit the in­di­vid­ual imag­i­na­tion against the so­cial con­tract.

Against this stands the ev­i­dence that, for Scott, the cre­ative phase of au­thor­ship con­tin­ued into and fused with the stages of print pro­duc­tion. Be­fore 1827, no manuscript in Scott’s own hand was used in the print­ing house to set copy; up to this point his iden­tity as nov­el­ist was con­cealed be­hind a sys­tem of tran­scrip­tion. In al­most all cases th­ese tran­scripts have not sur­vived, while the holo­graphs, sealed off from fur­ther de­vel­op­ment, have. When we turn to the manuscripts we find co­her­ence of form but not text: Scott used proofs (sur­viv­ing patchily and only for later nov­els) to re­work pas­sages, some­times sub­stan­tially. Fur­ther, Scott seems not to have re­ferred to his manuscript when check­ing proofs. As the EEWN ed­i­tors’ scrupu­lous ex­po­sure of the con­di­tions of pro­duc­tion for each novel con­firms, Scott’s manuscripts were a point of de­par­ture rather than re­turn, and each novel was fully de­vel­oped or ‘‘ tex­tu­alised’’ only in the course of trans­for­ma­tion into print.

Fi­nally, un­til 1826 and the fi­nan­cial crash en­gulf­ing them all, Scott’s re­la­tion­ship with publisher and printer was highly un­usual: he was vir­tu­ally in con­trol of the process of print­ing; what hap­pened at the press was un­der his au­thor­ity, plac­ing him in a unique po­si­tion to see his wishes re­spected.

Why, then, lay em­pha­sis, as the EEWN ed­i­tors do, on re­stored manuscript read­ings? And why, in the con­struc­tion of an ideal or com­pos­ite text, dis­cour­age read­ings from later print­ings in which Scott ad­dressed the oc­ca­sional faults he found post-pub­li­ca­tion? Briefly, the EEWN em­pha­sis is on the text in cre­ation as dis­tinct from the text in re­vi­sion or re­pair.

Scott’s nor­mal pro­ce­dure was to send off por­tions of manuscript to the press in batches as they were fin­ished, of­ten not wait­ing for the struc­tural pauses in com­po­si­tion of chap­ter or vol­ume di­vi­sions. In­evitably, this way of work­ing put pres­sure on the proof stage as a fur­ther cre­ative ef­fort. Equally, the ap­pear­ance in print of the early por­tions of a work might in­flu­ence sub­se­quent manuscript de­vel­op­ment. In the manuscript of The An­ti­quary the name of the fisher fam­ily ap­pears as Muck­le­backit 17 times to Meik­le­backit 18 times, with the first us­age be­ing Meik­le­backit and 11 uses of Muck­le­backit grouped in the third vol­ume, by which time print had stan­dard­ised Muck­le­backit, and Scott’s writ­ing hand fol­lowed suit.

He­witt’s de­ci­sion con­sis­tently to un­pick what print stan­dard­ised and Scott ac­cepted is es­pe­cially zeal­ous and not al­to­gether sat­is­fac­tory. Emend­ing in ev­ery in­stance to Meik­le­backit, He­witt raises the no­tion of an ideal manuscript state and eclipses Scott’s pragmatism as a writer.

For all its em­pha­sis on the his­tory of pro­duc­tion, the EEWN reg­u­larly rel­e­gates the in­ten­tion to print in favour of a nar­rower no­tion of Scott as au­ton­o­mous au­thor. A state­ment in the Guide for Ed­i­tors as­serts, against its own painstak­ingly con­structed ev­i­dence, that: ‘‘ The manuscripts pro­vide the only fully au­thor­i­ta­tive state of the texts of the nov­els, for they alone pro­ceed wholly from the au­thor.’’ The in­vi­ta­tion, ac­cepted more read­ily by some of the vol­ume ed­i­tors, is to view the manuscripts less as drafts or pre-texts (as work­ing manuscripts are of­ten called) than as the nov­els’ only au­then­tic state.

What does this mean for the nov­els we read in this new edi­tion? It means the restora­tion of thou­sands of manuscript read­ings. There are sin­gle-word im­prove­ments: the pre­cise ‘‘ ca­boose’’ for ‘‘ cabin’’, ‘‘ sus­pi­ra­tions’’ for ‘‘ as­pi­ra­tions’’, ‘‘ blood-cru­elty’’ for ‘‘ blood and cru­elty’’ in The Pi­rate; the mend­ing of nu­mer­ous copy­ing er­rors or word jum­blings and sen­tences lost through hasty tran­scrip­tion from Ke­nil­worth.

In Guy Man­ner­ing, sub­stan­tial sec­tions of manuscript text are re­cov­ered and in­cor­po­rated into print for the first time. Among them, four manuscript pages, in which Man­ner­ing in­dulges in the kind of literary tourism that would have been fa­mil­iar to Scott’s early read­ers from To­bias Smol­lett’s Humphry Clinker, pro­vide ob­ser­va­tions on lead­ing fig­ures of the Ed­in­burgh En­light­en­ment, in­clud­ing the ec­cen­tric Lord Mon­boddo.

Ti­tles are ad­justed. Old Mor­tal­ity be­comes the more log­i­cal The Tale of Old Mor­tal­ity (the manuscript twice calls the novel ‘‘ The Tale of’’), rec­ti­fy­ing what the ed­i­tor Dou­glas S. Mack calls a ‘‘ mishap in the pro­duc­tion process’’; A Leg­end of Mon­trose be­comes Scott’s pre­ferred form, A Leg­end of the Wars of Mon­trose. Freed from the pres­sures of bal­anc­ing the length of the text in the orig­i­nal multi-vol­ume for­mat in which the first edi­tions ap­peared, ed­i­tors can re­store orig­i­nal manuscript di­vi­sions to the ma­te­rial, sig­nif­i­cantly reap­por­tion­ing struc­tural em­pha­sis in The Tale of Old Mor­tal­ity, The Heart of Mid­Loth­ian and The Bride of Lam­mer­moor. The re­turn to a first-edi­tion text for The Bride also re­stores the im­me­di­ate po­lit­i­cal con­text of the ac­tion to shortly be­fore the 1707 Union of Scot­land and Eng­land. In re­vi­sions in 1830 for the Mag­num, Scott in­serted sev­eral pas­sages es­tab­lish­ing a new post-Union set­ting, but the orig­i­nal pre-1707 con­text, a pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal vac­il­la­tion and no clear lead­er­ship, throws a dif­fer­ent em­pha­sis on re­la­tions be­tween the novel’s ma­jor play­ers. In many in­stances, the known cir­cum­stances of haste un­der which pro­duc­tion con­tin­ued jus­tify manuscript restora­tion; in oth­ers, ed­i­tors are com­pelled rather by a sense of the rich­ness of what has been lost.

The EEWN is a pas­sion­ately ar­gued edi­tion that re­fuses to shy away from the crit­i­cal work that de­fines edit­ing at its best. Cor­po­rately and in­di­vid­u­ally, the ed­i­tors have set and achieved de­mand­ing stan­dards. Their minute scru­tiny of tex­tual states does not lie in­ert in syn­op­tic ap­pa­ra­tus, but is woven into co­gent ex­po­si­tions of Scott’s re­mark­able feats of com­po­si­tion. Shin­ing steady light on the or­ganic imag­i­na­tion at work within those me­chan­i­cal re­la­tions, the Ed­in­burgh Edi­tion of the Waver­ley nov­els vig­or­ously re­buts Thomas Car­lyle’s verdict on the man who was a ‘‘ Novel-man­u­fac­tory’’. Scott emerges once again as a writer of heroic stature.

From far left, Emma Matthews in a West Aus­tralian Opera pro­duc­tion of Lu­cia di

Lam­mer­moor, which is based on Wal­ter Scott’s

Bride of Lam­mer­moor; a por­trait of the au­thor by Henry Rae­burn; Robert Tay­lor and El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor in Ivan­hoe; Liam Nee­son in Rob Roy

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