Chapter

How Long Was Immortality?

Ann Rigney

in The Afterlives of Walter Scott

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644018
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738784 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644018.003.0008
How Long Was Immortality?

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A remarkable feature of Scott’s career is that he rose quickly to extraordinary heights of fame and popularity, but that he also very quickly went out of fashion. As a cultural figure, he stands for memory but also for transience. Analysing the critical discourses that Scott’s work generated, the chapter shows how at the height of his public fame in 1871 he had already become associated with the tastes and predispositions of an earlier generation. In a cultural narrative of progress he himself helped create, he was relegated to the ‘juvenile’ and honoured as a ‘lost cause’. In the first half of the twentieth century, his work was marginalized by critics and his influence rejected. It is argued that Scott prepared for his own obsolescence by helping to produce a consumerist culture of rapid turnovers but also by promoting a discourse of progress within the guise of historicism.

Keywords: immortality; popularity; transience; generationality; juvenile literature; twentieth-century criticism

Chapter.  7791 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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