Chilly rain pours down in Durham, but I am comfortable in my youngest daughter's home where I am relaxing while reading Walter Scott's Waverley. I ended up with that old novel since before I arrived here I spent some time in Edinburgh, where the railway station is named after Waverleyprobably the only station in the world that is named after a novel. It was not the first time I ended up in Scotland or Edinburgh.
I came to Scotland in the summer of in the company of my youngest sister and her friend Inger from the Sophia Hospital in Stockholm, where they trained to become nurses. Inger brought her brother Ulf, amateur boxer from Gothenburg. Ulf and I got along well. While our sisters in the evenings spent a nice time on their own, we familiarized ourselves with the Scottish pub life. We had arrived in England after crossing an unusually stormy North Sea. The huge ferry had violently rocked up and down on mighty waves, while I and Ulf nauseous and fascinated sat by the restaurant's panoramic windows watching how the bow had disappeared under one surge after another.
Gilmore was a Scottish patriot who frequently quoted his favourite poet Robert Burns and paid constant homage to Robert Bruce, who through the Battle of Bannockburn had beaten up "those pesky Englishmen. Once a week, Mr. Gilmore had "Goffe" been invented in Aberdeen, long before the "unfairly" famous golf course in St.
Andrews had been founded. According to him it was at Kings Links that the world's oldest golf course had been established. Gilmore's golf club had by some local craftsman been made entirely out of wood, "just as it should be":.
Irons are used for small details, like putts and the likes, according to me that is cheating. My ancestors used nothing else but wooden clubs and I am perfectly content mine, which furthermore is a beauty.
Carrying around an entire bag with clubs is an invention by the wealthy moneybags of T he Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golferswho made their servants lug Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull with all that rubbish.
It has become an abomination. Golf is a hearty Scottish sport created by and for ordinary Scots. Unfortunately, all those affluent capitalists turned a noble exercise into a sickening spectacle. Gilmore dressed up in kilt and played bagpipes in this garden. There is a Super 8 film depicting our excursions with Mr. Gilmore, but it was a long time since I last saw it.
Gilmore made a lasting impression on me, he was a delightful example of Scottish nationalism. That visit to Aberdeen gave me a taste for more and a few years later I was back in Scotland this time in the company of my corridor mate Anki. We hitched a ride with a truck from London to Edinburgh and pitched our tent on a swampy campsite outside the city. During days the weather was decent, but every night the rain hurled down. Of course we quarrelled a lot, not surprising given the fact that Anki had a fierce temperament, our uncomfortable tent and earlier "Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull" in England when I was feverish with a cold, all combined with the chilly moisture.
However, it did not prevent us from dressing up, leave the damp tent and spend days and evenings by visiting a wealth of activities during The Edinburgh Festival. We watched everything from contemporary dance and experimental theatre, to Shakespeare, opera and ballet.
We had given up on our dank tent and spent the last night sleeping back and forth on various warm busses before we flew to Sweden - my first flight ever. The night before I travelled to Durham, I remembered all this while I sat in a pub next to a blazing log fire, in front of a Haggis Tower and a pint of the excellent beer Innes and Gunn which obtains its special flavour after being stored in rum barrels.
At a table sat a group of youngsters playing Scottish reels on pipe, violin and mandolin. The pub was warm, cosy and filled with people. While massive, redheaded Scots and their pathetically ill-dressed companions in miniskirts came and went, I sat by my table for a long while, enjoying the convivial atmosphere, eating my haggisdrinking my Innes and Gunn and decided to finally read Waverley. Actually, it is somewhat surprising that so many Scots speak warmly of Waverely.
The novel is in some places unusually difficult to read, filled with a variety of allusions to historical figures and events. There are dialogues that turn out to be a chorus of different style exercises, where high and low English mixed with Latin, French and Gaelic, rich in allusions to ancient and contemporary writers and events.
A compact style that often may be quite tiring and which has made several critics and writers pouring invectives on Walter Scott, who nevertheless gained respect from millions of readers all over the world, being praised by giants likes of Goethe, Balzac and Karl Marx.
Charles Baudelaire, however, gave in his only novel Fanfarlowritten inthirty years after Waverleya scathing critique of the Scottish bard.
The protagonist of Fanfarlo is a reading and writing dandy and flaneur named Samuel Cramer, not unlike the twenty-six-year-old Baudelaire. Cramer is shadowing his youth love, Madame de Cosmelly, during her walks through the Luxembourg and approaches her by returning a novel she had left behind on a park bench.
After having made the Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull lady remembering their shared memories and by exposing his immense literary interests Cramer manages to win her trust. Impossible chatelains and lovers utterly lacking in any modern significance — no truth as regards the heart, no philosophy as regards the emotions! What difference between him and our good French novelists, where passions and morals are always more important than the material description of objects!
Does the interest you much more because he carries in his waistcoat a dagger instead of a visiting card, and does a despot in a black coat cause Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull a less poetic terror than a tyrant clad in buffalo skin and iron?
He was then hailed as the historical novel's father.
Instead of describing distant events from the perspective of royals and other celebrities, his historical depictions assumed the viewpoint of "ordinary people", describing their experiences and opinions; complicated events described within the context of carefully studied settings. Scott was praised for his ability to make history come alive, give it flesh and blood, something that inspired other writers of historical epics, like Victor Hugo, Dumas and Tolstoy.
Admittedly, his novels tend to be populated by blond beauties and wild, passionate dark-haired ladies, who tend to be passed over by their more domesticand moderate rivals. I am a bad hand at depicting a hero, properly so called, and have an unfortunate propensity for the dubious characters of borderers, buccaneers, highland robbers […] My rouge always, in despite of me, turns out my hero.
The name "Waverley" alluded to the word wavering and Edward Waverley does not only waver between his allegiances to the English Government and his attraction to the revolting highland clans, but is also wavering in his romantic love for Flora and Rose.
Even if several persons close to him celebrated Walter Scott's generosity, openness and great kindness, many of them also spoke about his evasive and uncertain personality. He was not only a highly respected poet and novelist, but also a poseur, politician and an economically motivated schemer. It has, for example, been wildly speculated why Scott published his so called Waverley novels, i.
It took twelve years before he acknowledged the authorship of these, his most popular and internationally acclaimed novels, which until then
Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull been issued under the name the Author of the Waverley Novels. Explanations may be several - a sense of shame that a celebrated poet, lawyer, member of an old Scottish clan, historian, interpreter of venerable traditions and parliamentarian could waste his time by devoting himself to writing novels.
Perhaps Scott's desire for anonymity was mixed with an abnormally profound sensitivity to negative criticism, or a businessman's understanding that a certain amount of mystery tickles the interest of consumers. There was also a suspicion that if it was revealed that the immensely popular Waverley novels had been written by the successful author of lofty epics, "Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull" might be as a cheap attempt to cash in on that fame.
Scott earned money as his own publisher.
Maybe Scott needed a certain anonymity to let himself be inspired by a self-imposed role, a persona. While writing he entered into the role of an all-seeing, all-knowing author. He wrote at a high speed after devoting years to studies and preparation. His ever-changing role playing and occasional remoteness made Scott becoming labelled as The Great Unknown. He was a trusty companion, generous host, eloquent lawyer, mason merry-maker, attracted to song and drink, though he could not dance due to a limp caused by polio in his childhood.
His good friend, author and the former shepherd James Hogg, who hailed Scott as "the greatest man in the world. What are kings and emperors compared with him? Maybe Scott was merely an insecure and oversensitive poseur, who Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull hid his inner feelings?
Yet, despite all these shortcomings, I cannot help but being fascinated by Scott's narrative powers and find myself involved in Waverleydiscerning layers of interesting observations and ideas. Even in his writing, Scott was a chameleon, possibly this is not a deficiency, it actually makes him both distinctive and interesting. Scott keeps a certain distance from his story, which takes place against the background of the Stuart family's attempt to reclaim the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland.
A struggle beginning when James II in converted to Catholicism and in was forced to abdicate and seek refuge in France, after his son-in-law, the Protestant William of Orange had invaded England. When James's son inafter a failed uprising, gave up his hope of becoming English and Scottish king, the Jacobites transferred their support to his son, Charles Edward, called Bonnie Prince Charles or The Young Pretender. It is after his disembarkation on August 2, on the island of Eriskay among the Outer Hebrides, that the main story of Waverley unfolds.
The decisive battle of Culloden was fought during a hailstorm lashing the ill-disciplined Highlanders in the face, while they were subjected to a devastating firestorm from professional English troops. Almost half of Bonnie Prince Charles's troops had deserted before a battle they realized was going to be fought on a flat, swampy terrain. They were accustomed to attack their enemies from ambushes among their rocky homelands and were therefore reluctant to expose themselves on an open field,
Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull well-aimed English canons would mow them down and they were easy targets for disciplined, targeted firing.
The Highlanders lacked an effective artillery, their cavalry was insufficient and moreover, they were commanded by an inexperienced leader, who did not listen to their clan chiefs, but rather to his Irish and French advisers. Walter Scott reveals his narrative skills by keeping his hero off the decisive battles and preparations of the uprising. Admittedly, Edward Waverley meets with Bonnie Prince Charles and becomes involved with an influential clan chief and his fiery sister.
Glengarry, as he was generally called, was often hailed by his friend Walter Scott, in spite of the fact that he was familiar Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull his vanity, violent temper and ruthless evictions of tenants:.
This gentleman is a kind of Quixote in our age, having retained, in their full extent, the whole feelings of clanship, elsewhere so long abandoned. He seems to have lived a century to late, and to exist, in a state of complete law and order, like Glengarry of old, whose will was law to his sept, Warm-hearted, generous, friendly, he is beloved by those who know him, and his efforts are unceasing to show kindness to those of his clan who are disposed full to admit his pretension.
Despite this, several of them perceived themselves, like Glengarry, as genuine examples of traditional and benevolent tribal chieftains. Glengarry always wore the kilt, or patterned tartan and like his ancestors he rarely journeyed without his tail; meaning that he dressed up his servants in kilts and armed them with broadswords and round shields, travelling in their company and with pipers, a blind minstrel and two tall youngsters who carried him across streams and rugged terrain.
Nevertheless, kilts were allowed in the loyal Scottish regiments that had been established by clan chiefs and to which several young Scots were conscripted. This so-called toorie is still worn by Scottish troops. Walter Scott was duly impressed by the ruthless Alexander MacDonell of Glengarry and his craze for folkish Highland manners. Macdonald good advice on how best to discipline and torment the poor fellows remaining on his property, so that Beelzebub finally would be able to welcome the revered clan chieftain to his Hell.
An excerpt from the letter provides a sample of the tone:. The young dogs, swinge them to the labour. Get out a horse-whip, or a jowler. The langest thong, the fiercest growler. Scott was more cautious and diplomatic than Burns, though his Waverley cannot be dismissed as propaganda for either Highland romanticism or Lowland capitalism. He clearly demonstrates that several tribal chiefs acted as mafia donsdemanding protection Valdtaktsman soker nad for foretagets skull from defenceless rural residents and that they did not hesitate to punish them and steal their cattle if they refused to pay.
Although several clan chiefs were educated and sophisticated it did not hinder them from controlling gangs of hitmen and thugs. Likewise, Lowlanders and the English were not depicted as any saints either, the contempt for the poorer highland residents were endemic among many of them. However, he makes his selection by the end of the novel, when he marries Rose and turns his back on the passionate Highland beauty Flora.
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