Walter Scott was acutely conscious of the fictionality of his "historical" narratives. Assuming Scott's keen awareness of the problems of historical representation, James Kerr reads the Waverley novels as a grand fictional project constructed around the relationship between the language of fiction and the historical reality. Scott deliberately played fiction and history off against one another; and we can see throughout his novels a tension between the romancer, recasting the events of the past in accordance with recognizably literary logics, and the historian, presenting an accurate account of the past. This contradiction, reflected in Scott's generic mixture of romance and realism, remains unresolved, even in the most self-conscious of his works. It is in this interplay of fiction and history that Professor Kerr identifies the rich complexity of the Waverley novels.
'A complex and original interpretation of the novels ... Kerr conducts some intense and scrupulous reading of Scott's texts, honoring their imaginative richness while exposing their unexpressed ideological commitments. He brings to bear on Scott a sound critical intelligence.' George Levine, Rutgers University