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Sir Walter Scott - are there any like him today?

I don't mean in style, but in how he was regarded.  He came to my attention when we were close to Scotland recently, and I wondered if there were modern-day equivalents who are both very popular writer and criticially important.  I can't really think of any.  I wondered about Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks or Kazuo Ishiguro but feel their attention is more from critics thn the general public.  Do people rush to buy their books?

Perhaps Alexander McCall Smith?  I am not sure how he is considered in a literary sense.  American writers?  Anne Tyler maybe?  

Or is there just not a place for writers like Scott and Dickens any more?  Is it more one or the other?  Or is it more to do with literary fiction being a specific genre as I think Mike Alx said?

Cheers, Caro.

I suppose we've got Alan Bennett, who is well regarded by literary critics and is part of the literary establishment, but is also very popular with the public.

A.S. Byatt's Possession is a good example of a novel that was highly regarded critically (and firmly in the 'literary fiction' bracket) but also successful with the public at large (though presumably many skipped the bits of poetry).

Sarah Waters seems to me a good example of a writer who can take the literary and the popular audience with her (not that those audiences are disjoint sets of course!).

Scott - Chronicles of the Canongate

THE SURGEON’S DAUGHTER is the third of the three stories contained in Walter Scott’s ‘Chronicles of the Canongate’ (1827). The other two stories are ‘The Two Drovers’ and ‘The Highland Widow’ both of which I read earlier this year and enjoyed. They are in Scott’s best vein with tight, localised stories. The three stories are contained within a framing narrative called ‘Chrystal Croftangry’s Narrative’ which I didn’t read. ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’, novella length, begins very well with the arrival at a country doctor’s house of a mysterious veiled woman who gives birth to a son and immediately disappears into the night. Scott then sets up an interesting rivalry between the story’s two protaganists and the doctor’s daughter. Unfortunately from this point the narrative becomes increasingly complicated and, with a change of location to India, plus coincidences and absurd disguises, grows tiresome. I was glad to finish it. I received the impression that Scott was not really inspired when he wrote ‘The Surgeon’s Daughter’ which is over-plotted and ill-thought out.
But the other two stories are well worth anyone's reading time.

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