The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography


John Sutherland's new critical biography is an undertaking of major importance in which he penetrates into the darker areas of Scott's life in a sceptical (yet sympathetic) spirit,

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John Sutherland's new critical biography is an undertaking of major importance in which he penetrates into the darker areas of Scott's life in a sceptical (yet sympathetic) spirit,

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A critical study of Scott might be something to approach with trepidation, but Sutherland surprises in a lively, zestful and witty study." David McVey, The Guardian

"I have read only five of Scott's novels. Sutherland's book persuades me there are grotesque treasures buried in all of them." Alasdair Gray, The Guardian

"Excellent critical, but not unfriendly, new look at his life and work." Eric Anderson, Sunday Telegraph

"A splendid biography: erudition and scholarship set forth with elegance and wit." N. John Hall, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York

"A compelling narrative, and a shrewd, unillusioned portrait of Walter Scott, in his various guises; a high point in the history of Scott studies." Karl Miller, University of London

"Contentious, compelling, and very readable." Scotland on Sunday

"Learned, exact, he writes as Scott did, for the enjoyment of the reader, and does not let his assessment of the man cloud his keen appreciation of Scott's art. This is a finely judged and hugely absorbing biography." The Sunday Times

"Professor Sutherland takes us from birth to death in this engrossing volume, tracing the development of the child crippled by infantile paralysis to the successful, then penniless, author, who wrote to clear off his debts, and died a disturbed and slow death in his beloved Abbottsford in the borders." The Evening News

"I have read only five of Scott's novels. Sutherland's book persuades me there are grotesque treasures buried in all of them." Irish Press

"John Sutherland's pithy, cynical Life of Scott is very much a biography of our time: irreverent, streetwise, set foursquare in a 'real world' in which careers achieve money and power and character is at least 51 per cent of image."Marilyn Butler, London Review of Books

"Any fair-minded person who reads Sutherland's criticism and praise should conclude that Sir Walter, warts and all, can still be regarded as Great Scott. This unflinching account is outstandingly well researched and a major contribution to an understanding of him."Rennie McOwen, The Tablet

"Immediate and immensely readable, The Life of Walter Scott is a masterful account that penetrates into the darker areas of Scott's life in a sceptical (yet sympathetic) spirit... Through this account, Scott is justified as a writer to be read and understood today as much as in his heyday in the nineteenth century." Wisconsin Bookwatch

"Sutherland does not invite the reader to enter a gold mine recently discovered, but his work is nevertheless an impressive achievement. His hallmark as a scholar is skill in condensing a wide range of sources in his endeavour to give as complete a picture of Scott as man and writer as possible. Above all, Sutherland is a good writer who combines a lively and crisp style with critical acumen." Lars Hartveit, English Studies

Library Journal
Edgar Johnson's two-volume Sir Walter Scott (LJ 6/15/70), still the standard biography though it is out of print, indulges in special pleading for its subject and his books. Sutherland, who has published widely on Victorian literature, is more critical, showing small appreciation for the man or his writing. Sutherland is best in relating the works to Scott's life and times, for example, when he links the Napoleonic Wars to the battles that culminate each of Scott's major poems, or when Sutherland argues that the darkness of The Bride of Lammermoor mirrors Scott's sense of mortality at the time of composition. A good alternative to Sutherland is A.N. Wilson's thematically arranged The Laird of Abbotsford (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1980).-Joseph Rosenblum, Greensboro, N.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631203179
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/13/1998
  • Series: Wiley Blackwell Critical Biographies Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

John Sutherland is the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London. He is the author of Mrs Humphry Ward (1990) and The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (1989).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.


Abbreviations Used in the Text.

1. Scott Among the Scotts (1771-1783).

2. Student and Apprentice (1783-1790).

3. Getting Forward (1790-1797).

4. The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1798-1802).

5. Ashestiel and The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1802-1805).

6. The Scott Brothers and Marmion (1806-1809).

7. The Complete Author (1809-1811).

8. Abbotsford and Waverley (1811-1814).

9. Guy Mannering to The Antiquary (1814-1816).

10.'Tales of my Landlord' to The Heart of Midlothian (1816-1818).

11. The Bride of Lammermoor to The Abbot (1818-1820).

12. The Tory Grandee (1820-1822).

13. The Royal Visit and Redgauntlet (1822-1823).

14. The Crash (1824-1826).

15. Working for the Creditors (1826-1827).

16. The 'Magnum Opus' (1828-1829).

17. The Last Years (1830-1832).

Appendix Map: Scott and the Borders.




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