Walter Scott

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Scott, Walter,

1867–1938, Canadian journalist and political leader, b. Ontario. A newspaper editor and publisher, he became (1900) a member of the House of Commons from Assiniboia West and was instrumental in securing the creation of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. An outstanding Liberal, he served as premier of Saskatchewan from 1905 until his retirement in 1916. He also acted as president of the council and minister of education.

Scott, Walter

 

Born Aug. 15, 1771, in Edinburgh; died Sept. 21, 1832, at Abbotsford. British writer.

The son of a well-to-do Scottish lawyer, Scott passed his bar examinations in 1792 at the University of Edinburgh. In 1799 he became the sheriff of Selkirkshire, and from 1806 he served as secretary of the county court His first original work was the romantic ballad “The Eve of St, John” (1800; Russian translation by V, A. Zhukovskii, under the title “Smailholm Castle”). In 1800 he began collecting Scottish folk ballads, which he later published as Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (vols. 1–3, 1802–3). He contributed to the Edinburgh Review and the Quarterly Review. Scott won acclaim for his romantic narrative poems (1805–17), which popularized the lyrical epic genre, combining a dramatic story line with beautiful descriptions of nature and lyric songs in the style of the ballad, for example. The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805; Russian translation, 1822), Marmion (1808; Russian translation, 1828), The Lady of the Lake (1810; Russian translation, 1828), and Rokeby (1813; Russian translation, 1823).

Scott created the genre of the historical novel. Waverley, the first such novel (1814; Russian translation, 1827), was published anonymously. Until 1827, subsequent novels were published as works by the “author of Waverley.” Events associated with important sociohistorical conflicts form the core of Scott’s novels. His Scottish novels The Old Mortality (1816; Russian translation, 1824) and Rub Roy (1818; Russian translation, 1829) are outstanding works based on Scottish historical sources. In The Old Mortality Scott depicted the uprising of 1679 against the Stuart dynasty, which had been restored in 1660. The hero of Rob Roy is an avenger of the people, a Scottish Robin Hood. Scott also wrote some nonhistorical novels, among them, Guy Mannering (vols. 1–3, 1815; Russian translation, 1824), The Antiquary (vols. 1–3, 1816; Russian translation, 1825–26), and The Bride of Lammermoor (1819; Russian translation, 1827). Although the action of these novels is set in the past, the works lack the grand scale of historical conflict. Their plots center on court cases associated with the distribution of landholdings.

A realistic approach prevails in novels written by Scott between 1810 and 1820. For example, it is possible to speak of the emergence of critical realism in The Old Mortality and The Bride of Lammermoor, novels in which the conflicts have a clear social basis and the characters’ fates are determined by property relations. The plot of The Heart of Mid-Lothian (1818; Russian translation, 1825) is based on a conflict between the individual and the law.

After 1819 the contradictions in Scott’s world view grew more intense, and Scott posed the problems of the class struggle less sharply. Nevertheless, the subject matter of his historical novels expanded considerably as Scott became interested in periods remote from his own. He wrote the novels Ivanhoe (vols. 1–3, 1820; Russian translation, 1826), Kenilworth (vols. 1–4, 1821; Russian translation, 1823), Quentin Durward (vols. 1–3, 1823; Russian translation, 1827), Woodstock (vols. 1–3, 1826; Russian translation, 1829), and Chronicles of the Canongate, Second Series (The Fair Maid of Perth, 1828; Russian translation, 1829). Although his work of the 1820’s continued to have a realistic foundation, it was sometimes marked by greater romanticism. This is especially true of Ivanhoe, a novel set in the late Middle Ages. St. Ronan’s Well (vols. 1–3, 1824; Russian translation, 1828), a novel about his own times, occupies a special place among Scott’s works. The bourgeoisification of the gentry is described in critical tones, and the titled aristocracy is satirized in numerous sketches. The principles of the novel of mores and manners are manifested in The Pirate (vols. 1–3, 1822; Russian translation, 1829) and The Fortunes of Nigel (vols. 1–3, 1822; Russian translation, 1929).

Scott treated the theme of the lack of rights of the Scottish common people in short stories and novellas written during the 1820’s. During this period he also published a number of works on historical and literary themes: The Life of Napoleon (vols. 1–9, 1827; Russian translation, parts 1–14, 1831–33), The History of Scotland (vols. 1–3, 1829–30; Russian translation, 1831), and The Death of Lord Byron (1824; Russian translation, 1825). Scott’s Lives of the Novelists (vols. 1–4, 1821–24) clarifies his creative ties with 18th-century writers, especially Fielding, whom he called the “father of the English novel.”

Scott’s brilliant historical novels established the principles for the new genre. Scott linked everyday family conflicts with the destinies of nations and states and the development of society. His work had an enormous influence on European and American literature. The historical novel became one of the most popular genres during the romantic period, when it was adopted by V. Hugo, A. Dumas père, A. de Vigny, and J. F. Cooper. Balzac, Mérimée, Dickens, and Thackeray gave a realistic orientation to the historical novel. However, it was Scott who enriched the 19th-century social novel with the principle of the historical approach to events and characters.

Scott was well known in Russia as early as the 1820’s. A. S. Pushkin and V. G. Belinskii wrote about him. His work as a novelist influenced the historical prose of Russian writers, including Pushkin and Gogol. Soviet literary scholarship has carefully studied the relationship of realism and romanticism in Scott’s legacy, taking as a point of departure the profoundly contemporary feel of his works.

WORKS

Works, vols. 1–50. Boston, 1912–13.
Poetical Works. Oxford, 1940.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–20. [Introduction by B. G. Reizov.) Moscow-Leningrad, 1960–65

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Ob iskusstve, vol. 1. Moscow, 1967. page 482. Vol. 2: Moscow, 1967, pages 556,564.
Reizov, B. G. Tvorchestvo Val’tera Skotta. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Bel’skii, A. A. Angliiskii roman 1800-1810 gg. Perm’. 1968.
Bel’skii, A. A. Angliiskii roman 1820-kh gg. Perm’, 1975.
Val’ter Skott: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow, 1958.
Hillhouse, J. The Waverley Novels and Their Critics. London, 1936.
Johnson, E. Sir Walter Scott.... [London, 1970.]
Scott Bicentenary Essays... Edinburgh-London, 1973.
Corson, I. C. A Bibliography of Sir Walter Scott. London-Edinburgh, 1943.

A. A. BEL’SKII