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‘Almost the Same as Being Innocent’: Celebrated Murderesses and National Narratives in Walter Scott's The Heart of Mid-Lothian and Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace

Evan Gottlieb

in Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748637744
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652143 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637744.003.0002
‘Almost the Same as Being Innocent’: Celebrated Murderesses and National Narratives in Walter Scott's The Heart of Mid-Lothian and Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace

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This chapter addresses two of the most prominent writers from Scotland and Canada — Walter Scott and Margaret Atwood. It specifically considers Scott's The Heart of Mid-Lothian and Atwood's Alias Grace. They are both based on a true story. The latter one forces readers to become suspicious, not only of the main character's guilt or innocence, but also of the ways in which guilt and innocence are themselves products of specific national cultures. Atwood's novel looks back to its Scottish predecessor more directly than even Atwood herself might have suspected. It would be equally true, however, to say that Scott looks forward to the ambiguities of both modern nationhood and postmodern narrative, especially as they are triangulated with the postcolonial condition of states like Scotland and Canada, much more presciently than the previously appreciated.

Keywords: Walter Scott; Margaret Atwood; The Heart of Mid-Lothian; Alias Grace; Scotland; Canada

Chapter.  6386 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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