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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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Fictions of Authenticity: The Frame Narratives and Notes of the Waverley Novels

Fictions of Authenticity: The Frame Narratives and Notes of the Waverley Novels

(p.117) 3 Fictions of Authenticity: The Frame Narratives and Notes of the Waverley Novels
Legitimate Histories

Fiona Robertson

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to the frame narrative of The Monastery, and several other types of paratext in the Waverley Novels, in order to focus on the careful constructions of authenticity which, for many readers, mark the difference between the Waverley Novels and Gothic. Since authenticity presupposes authority, the apparent absence of authority during the years of Scott's anonymity has recently received a great deal of attention from critics, who have analysed in detail Scott's habit of ‘keeping you all this while in the porch, and wearying you with long inductions’, as Dr Dryasdust describes it in the Prefatory Letter to Peveril of the Peak. The frame narratives of the first editions of the Waverley Novels–with their extended play between competing antiquaries, amateur historians, and gentlemen of leisure of varying degrees of dignity and trustworthiness–are now well-charted demonstrations of the complex interplay of authority and authenticity in Scott's work. It is fitting that comparable critical discrimination should be shown when considering Scott's later, more seductive, and more lastingly authoritative, authenticating voice: that is, the autobiographical voice introduced in the Magnum Opus edition, in which Scott creates an authorial persona whose pronouncements about origins and authority have been more difficult to refute than those of Peter Pattieson or Dr Jonas Dryasdust.

Keywords:   Walter Scott, Waverley Novels, paratext, frame narrative, The Monastery, authenticity, Gothic fiction

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