Legitimate Histories is an original and wideranging reading of Walter Scott's Waverley Novels in the context of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic.
Bringing together two types of historical fiction which have traditionally been kept apart in surveys of the Romantic period, Fiona Robertson argues that it is impossible to judge the effectiveness of Scott's narratorial strategies if one continues to filter out the problems generic, cultural, and structural - which generated them. She draws attention to shared (and contested) historical and political preoccupations, to techniques of narrative deferral and fantasies of origin and originality, and to the crises of authority and authenticity which are concealed (and flaunted) by the masterful voice of the 'Author of Waverley'. She also focuses on the critical traditions by which Scott's fissured, questioning, and problematic novels have been stabilized for increasingly disenchanted generations of readers. Arguing for a new way of approaching Scott, the book takes in the whole range of Waverley Novels, including analyses of such neglected works as The Fortunes of Nigel, Peveril of the Peak, Woodstock, and Anne of Geierstein, as well as the more familiar Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian, and Redgauntlet.
Offering fresh insight into the variety and complexity of Scott's novels, and into the traditions of criticism which have so often obscured them, Legitimate Histories makes an important contribution to the study of Romanticism and the novel, and to current theoretical debates concerning historical fiction and historiographic authority.
'... one of the most substantial and stimulating discussions of Scott in recent years; A sophisticated and enjoyable book.'
The Editorial Miscellany
`intelligent and wide-ranging book.'
Eighteenth Century Fiction
`There is a comprehensive and valuable account of the gothic corpus...Dr Robertson has left no stone unturned which has any relevance for her subject. The book is a detailed widely researched study by an academic for academics and as such will appeal to a limited few but it is in its own way a substantial contribution to the more arcane aspects of Scott scholarship.'
Notes and Queries
`This new study increases our understanding of Scott's ambiguous relations in the establishing of a literary tradition, while adding attentive and insightful readings of the narrative strategies of a broad range of his novels. it also widens our knowledge of Gothic textuality in general...a valuable model to replace the long-outdated idea of Scott's double inclination towards a romantic past and a progressive future...The book is admirably researched and
impeccably well-documented...also impressive in its detailed frame of reference...will be required reading for anyone concerned with the literature of the perios, and Legitimate Histories further advances the more particular case of Scott as a write whose construction of authorial and textual concerns are
subtle, complex, and far-reaching.'
Studies in Hogg and his World
`Excellent study of Scott's novels.'
Times Literary Supplement.
`a major book on the Waverly Novels and on the history of the novel in the early nineteenth century...Robertson's thesis is not perhaps exceptional in the context of recent and current re-evaluations of its key elements...but the way she has conceptualised it makes for fascinating reading. Nor is this the only admirable quality of the book. Legitimate Histories is distinguished by a range and depth of scholarship, a richness of contextualization, an
inventive and judicious analysis of texts, and - not least - a prose style that is always felicitious and frequently delightful...an impressive achievement.'
Wordsworth Circle 25/4
`what we have here is a capacious revaluation of Scott and in particular of his `strain of conscious literariness', wide-ranging in its implications and written with verve and an elegant accuracy which gave me, for one, great pleasure...where she is talking first about the Magnum Opus introduction to Woodstock, amd then about the Magnum Opus frame material generally, will perhaps serve to demostrate the complexity and perceptiveness of her approach'
`Fiona Robertson shows convincingly that the influence of the Gothic is much more deep-seated and pervading than has hitherto been thought, and her detailed study is ultimately an important revaluation of Scott's achievement. Robertson's truly impressive knowledge of her subject enables her to approach Scott with the same literary backround and expectations that his original readers had ... the resulting slant on Scott is both surprising and enlightening
... this is a fine book ... We can all be thankful to Fiona Robertson for a job well done.'
Jerome Mitchell, University of Georgia, Studies in Scottish Literature, Volume XXIX