The Healthy Text: Scott, the Monsters, and the Critics

Fiona Robertson

in Legitimate Histories

Published in print April 1994 | ISBN: 9780198112242
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670725 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

The Healthy Text: Scott, the Monsters, and the Critics

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This chapter examines the reception and interpretation of Scott's work, analysing the traditions of criticism which have worked to separate him from Gothic, and paying particular attention to the metaphor of health which has dominated them. Scott always chose to present himself as a casual writer, neither jealous nor ambitious; and his texts as casual constructions, neither sustained nor complete. The image of the likeable gentleman amateur, in turn, has profoundly influenced critical estimates of his work, which have always been inclined to present him as ‘a man only extraordinary by the depth of his ordinariness’, making him unusually vulnerable to guilt by association with the ethics and aesthetics of the dominant culture. Critical discussions of the texts, too, have been dominated by appeals to the normative and quotidian, and Scott's fissured novels eased into unity and wholeness. The final section of the chapter deals in summary form with Scott's immediate contacts with Gothic novels and novelists, and identifies key issues in his critical writings on them.

Keywords: Walter Scott; criticism; Gothic novels; health; critical writing

Chapter.  19155 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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