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The Afterlives of Walter ScottMemory on the Move$
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Ann Rigney

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644018

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644018.001.0001

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How Long Was Immortality?

How Long Was Immortality?

(p.200) 7 How Long Was Immortality?
The Afterlives of Walter Scott

Ann Rigney

Oxford University Press

A remarkable feature of Scott’s career is that he rose quickly to extraordinary heights of fame and popularity, but that he also very quickly went out of fashion. As a cultural figure, he stands for memory but also for transience. Analysing the critical discourses that Scott’s work generated, the chapter shows how at the height of his public fame in 1871 he had already become associated with the tastes and predispositions of an earlier generation. In a cultural narrative of progress he himself helped create, he was relegated to the ‘juvenile’ and honoured as a ‘lost cause’. In the first half of the twentieth century, his work was marginalized by critics and his influence rejected. It is argued that Scott prepared for his own obsolescence by helping to produce a consumerist culture of rapid turnovers but also by promoting a discourse of progress within the guise of historicism.

Keywords:   immortality, popularity, transience, generationality, juvenile literature, twentieth-century criticism

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