The Black Dwarf

The Black Dwarf

by Walter Scott

The Black Dwarf is set in the immediate aftermath of the Union between England and Scotland in 1707.

How does the dwarf plan to take vengeance?

  • Series: Tales of My Landlord
  • Language: English
  • Category: Classics
  • Rating: 3.47
  • Pages: 262
  • Publish Date: October 1st 1999 by Classic Publishers
  • Isbn10: 1582012415
  • Isbn13: 9781582012414

What People Think about "The Black Dwarf"

"The Black Dwarf" is a novel by Sir Walter Scott published in December 1816 by William Blackwood, Edinburgh, and John Murray, London. Here we go with the first of the stories The Black Dwarf. I found it very interesting that the main character in our novel is based on David Ritchie, whom Scott met in the autumn of 1797. Ritchie was born at the nearby town of Stobo, he was known also as David of Manor Water, Bow'd Davie, Crooked David & of course The Black Dwarf. For he followed not the example of those strong poets whom I proposed to him as a pattern, but formed versification of a flimsy and modern texture, to the compounding whereof was necessary small pains and less thought." When Mr. Pattieson dies as a young man Mr. Cleishbotham takes his papers he had written over the years, arranges them, and publishes them. It is these stories we are now about to read, the first of these collected stories; "The Black Dwarf". Here are some examples: "he'll be unco busy amang the morts this season" "Your father believed it unco stievely, though" " and the bonny broomy knowe, where he liked sae weel to sit at e'en, wi' his plaid about him, and look at the kye as they cam down the loaning, ill wad he hae liked to hae seen that braw sunny knowe a' riven out wi' the pleugh in the fashion it is at this day." "but ye ken we maun hae turnips for the lang sheep, billie, and muckle hard wark to get them, baith wi' the pleugh and the howe; and that wad sort ill wi' sitting on the broomy knowe, and cracking about Black Dwarfs, and siccan clavers, as was the gate lang syne, when the short sheep were in the fashion." "The carline, she sits in the neuk yonder, upbye" Are you getting the idea?

At the end of the novel, one realizes that it has largely been the tale of three women--a woman already dead when the story opens, her daughter, and a commoner who is abducted and nearly sold into slavery, all of whom are affected by the Black Dwarf in one way or another.

Sir Walter Scott released an anonymous review of his novel, The Black Dwarf, in which he was very critical, especially with the ending. (I wasn't able to find a copy of the review, so I haven't read it, but it is described in the Wikipedia entry for the novel.) I had some problems with the way the story wrapped up, but it was the beginning that gave me the most trouble. First of all, my daughter, who loves 19th Century literature, said this was her favorite Sir Walter Scott novel. Secondly, one of the reviews I read said another reader had trouble getting into the story, but like it once he did.

The feel of life on the borderlands in this time period comes through, but the most interesting aspect of the book is the use of a marginalized character to play a key role in the plot, as was the case in his previous novels.

Scott created and popularized historical novels in a series called the Waverley Novels. In his novels Scott arranged the plots and characters so the reader enters into the lives of both great and ordinary people caught up in violent, dramatic changes in history. Central themes of many of Scott's novels are about conflicts between opposing cultures.