Quentin Durward (first published in 1823), Scott's first "European" novel, was an experiment in transferring the historical romance to foreign soil. Fifteenth-century France, the French Revolution, and contemporary Britain all come together in this sharp-eyed novel of political expediency and intrigue. Quentin Durward is a young adventurer and soldier of the Scottish guards seeking fame and fortune in the France of Louis XI (1461-1483). Embarking upon a dangerous journey through the forest of the Ardennes seeking a name, a partner (there is a romance involving his love for Isabelle, Countess of Croye), and a position in the world, he knows little and understands less, but Scott represents his ignorance and naivete as useful to "the most sagacious prince in Europe" who needs servants motivated solely by the desire for coin and credit and lacking any interest in France, which would interfere with the execution of his political aims. Meanwhile, the Machiavellian King Louis XI of France, maneuvers his realm out of the hands of feudal barons and into centralized control -- which Scott believed to characterize the modern state. In Quentin Durward Scott studies the first modern state in the process of destroying the European feudal system at a time when the feudal system, which had been the sinews and nerves of national defense, and the spirit of chivalry, by which, began to be innovated upon and abandoned by those grosser characters, who centered their happiness in materialism.
The reception accorded Quentin Durward astounded Scott, his friends and his publishers. France, Germany and Italy went mad over him, realizing then, as now, that this miracle worker had given to European literature an unsurpassed picture of Louis XI and his age. His fame, the world over, was thenceforth permanently fixed. It was cheering news for Scott.
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.33(d)|
About the Author
J. H. Alexander is senior lecturer in English at the University of Aberdeen.
G. A. M. Wood is senior lecturer in English at the University of Stirling.
Edinburgh University Press