Waverley

Waverley

by Walter Scott

It relates the story of a young dreamer and English soldier, Edward Waverley, who was sent to Scotland in 1745.

  • Series: Waverley Novels
  • Language: English
  • Category: Classics
  • Rating: 3.43
  • Pages: 491
  • Publish Date: February 23rd 1995 by Penguin Books
  • Isbn10: 0140621482
  • Isbn13: 9780140621488

What People Think about "Waverley"

It is this political consciousness that makes Waverly--and all the Scott novels that came after--a unique contribution to the development of the form.

I don't care if you're a casual reader or a bibliophile or a PhD or you're trapped on a desert island with only this one book.

Wily Walter may have been engaged on his first prose narrative, but he knew what he was doing: "I must remind my reader of the progress of a stone rolled down a hill by an idle truant boy (a pastime at which I was myself expert in my more juvenile years:) it moveth at first slowly, avoiding, by inflection, every obstacle of the least importance; but when it has attained its full impulse, and draws near the conclusion of its career, it smokes and thunders down, taking a rood at every spring, clearing hedge and ditch like a Yorkshire huntsman, and becoming most furiously rapid in its course when it is nearest to being consigned to rest for ever. Once Waverley is in Scotland and in the midst of the action, the pace picks up, and when in the final volume there is the added interest of the ladies and whether Waverley will at last realise which lady holds his best interests at heart, and all the intrigue is at last uncovered, and the rebels must be punished or pardoned, well, then it takes on a spanking pace that hardly allows you to draw breath.

Simple farm folk who don't know what's going on, servants who only support a cause because their master does.

However reading dialogue in archaic Scottish brogue, liberally seasoned with Latin and French quotes, without translations, well it twas a wee bit much if you kin me meaning. So, it's not like he didn't have a good reason for his actions, not to mention the lass having long luxurious black hair and green eyes and all that.) So anyways, the war progresses and things once again turn out badly for the Scots and our friend Waverly starts thinking that being a Brit again might be a fine thing.

He loves to hear himself talk (or narrate, as it were) and it it painfully obvious that this is so.

Young Edward Waverley has been brought up mainly by his uncle, Sir Everard Waverley, an English Tory and supporter of the Jacobite cause in the failed 1715 rebellion. It's also often claimed as one of the most important books in English literature, which doesn't half annoy us Scots, since it's written by a Scot about Scotland. I'm willing to compromise and say it's an important book in English-language literature. This isn't as insignificant a point as it may seem Scott was one of the earliest Scots to write fiction in English, accepting that the Scottish language and culture was being subsumed into the dominant English culture of the time. However, in this, as in many of his books, his purpose was partly to explain Scottish culture and traditions to his English readership and do away with some of their misconceptions of the Scots, especially Highlanders, as a half-savage society. Although Scotland was one of the most literate societies in the world at the time Scott was writing, nevertheless authors tended to be addressing their work to others like themselves who had had a classical education (pretty much the only kind available), so this is liberally sprinkled with Latin and French and allusions to classical mythology which many modern readers (including this one) will find problematic at best and incomprehensible at worst. Even the English language is in a style that reads as pretty out-dated now and of course, there is some Scottish dialect too, not to mention the odd little bit of Gaelic. Scott himself said that this was his way of allowing the characters to reveal themselves rather than simply being described, but to suit modern tastes most readers would probably want to get into the story a good deal sooner. I can't give more than three stars for the story and writing, with an extra one for its position of importance in both English-language and Scottish literature.

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.