Sir Walter Scott

Der Economist stellt das neue Buch Stuart Kellys vor: Scott-land: The Man who Invented a Nation:

SIR WALTER SCOTT was a phenomenon. A poet whose first long poem, published in 1805, was such a success that he received an unprecedented advance of 1,000 guineas for his second, he was offered the post of poet laureate at the age of 42. At the time, an agricultural labourer would have earned about 40 guineas a year, yet Scott declined the honour, and turned to writing novels. These he produced at speed and in quantity: 27 in 18 years, compared with Charles Dickens’s 16 in 34, or George Eliot’s seven in 17. Many of Scott’s works were hugely popular; the first in the “Waverley” series, published anonymously, sold out in two days. He made a fortune from them, built a fairy-tale castle called Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders and, after his death in 1832, was commemorated in central Edinburgh by a colossal monument that would not have looked out of place on the launching pad of a 19th-century Cape Canaveral. […]

Mr Kelly suggests his real interest is not the author’s life but his afterlife, not the phenomenon itself, as it were, but the epiphenomenon. Yet his book is part biography, part literary criticism, part exploration of Scottish identity. It is also part journey of self-discovery. The bite-sized chapters jump from scholarly discussion of Scott’s works to apparently pointless descriptions of the author’s experiences in queues for cashpoints, references to current television shows, marginal figures like Jeffrey Archer and Alastair Campbell, and chatty stuff about his dad. The confusion of aims raises doubts about the seriousness of the endeavour, reinforced by the absence of footnotes and the inclusion of only a most inadequate index.

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