Walter Scott’s Disloyal Smugglers

Ayşe Çelikkol

in Romances of Free Trade

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199769001
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896943 | DOI:
Walter Scott’s Disloyal Smugglers

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This chapter uncovers some of the earliest articulations of the tension between free trade and patriotism as it examines the novels of Walter Scott. Guy Mannering (1815) and Redgauntlet (1824) critique unrestricted commercial exchange through the figure of the smuggler. This figure is so resonant because it superposes two distinct contexts, one economic and the other literary. In early-nineteenth-century Britain, the contraband trade was political economists’ favorite trope for proving the inevitability of commodity circulation across national borders. The smuggler, however, belonged as much to romance tales as to political economy: for centuries, smugglers embellished adventure tales of unruly exploits. Scott’s novels bring the latter context to bear on the former. The detachment of fictional smugglers comes to express the interpersonal consequences of free trade: an inability to form bonds.

Keywords: smugglers in literature; Walter Scott; Redgauntlet; Guy Mannering; flat characters

Chapter.  9168 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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