Saturday, January 19, 2008
Waverly by Walter Scott
Author: Sir Walter Scott
Publisher: Penguin Classics/1981
Pages: 608 pages
Initially, Waverley appears to be very odd novel. This opinion is caused by comparison of it with, Sir Scott's masterpiece, Ivanhoe. The opening chapters of the novel are too explanatory, and the middle chapters, though packed with events, are monotonous. The end stands out because it is written in an abrupt manner. The text is sporadic with long departure from the subject, not bearing any direct relationship to the main story.
Scott’s narration is filled with typical British Humour, which makes it worth reading even though he tends to depart from the main story line. A few of these odd digressions are interesting despite the anticlimactic moments.
Eventually, the narration is easier to deal with then the hero, Edward Waverley. He is said to be a gentleman at a time when that term meant exactly that. He also has a certain adventurous spirit, with a fantastic surviving aptitude. Many of the novel's characters love Edward Waverly which appears very odd to me.
Taken as a story, this does not stand out. However, Sir Walter Scott gives us a very good account of 18th Century Scottish culture. This is a treasure house of language and traditions, and we are treated to the national values of Scotland. This novel takes Scotland seriously. We observe the Catholic Highlanders sending their children to study in France and Italy. Bonnie Prince Charlie lost only one battle and it was adequate to secure Hanoverians their throne. We discern that the transition was inevitable for Scotland. Historical background and facts redeem the novel. The story is forgettable but the historical facts are not. It is said that many writers took to writing historical novels after reading Waverley. Whatever said and done, my copy goes out for giving. No second reading.