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Legitimate HistoriesScott, Gothic, and the Authorities of Fiction$
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Fiona Robertson

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112242.001.0001

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The Healthy Text: Scott, the Monsters, and the Critics

The Healthy Text: Scott, the Monsters, and the Critics

(p.21) 1 The Healthy Text: Scott, the Monsters, and the Critics
Legitimate Histories

Fiona Robertson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the reception and interpretation of Scott's work, analysing the traditions of criticism which have worked to separate him from Gothic, and paying particular attention to the metaphor of health which has dominated them. Scott always chose to present himself as a casual writer, neither jealous nor ambitious; and his texts as casual constructions, neither sustained nor complete. The image of the likeable gentleman amateur, in turn, has profoundly influenced critical estimates of his work, which have always been inclined to present him as ‘a man only extraordinary by the depth of his ordinariness’, making him unusually vulnerable to guilt by association with the ethics and aesthetics of the dominant culture. Critical discussions of the texts, too, have been dominated by appeals to the normative and quotidian, and Scott's fissured novels eased into unity and wholeness. The final section of the chapter deals in summary form with Scott's immediate contacts with Gothic novels and novelists, and identifies key issues in his critical writings on them.

Keywords:   Walter Scott, criticism, Gothic novels, health, critical writing

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