|Archive for Big Readers A place for discussing books and all things bookish.
Sir Walter ScottFrom: Red__Squirrel0 (Original Message)
Sent: 10/12/2007 1:06 PM
Speaking to the secretary of the Sir Walter Scott Club in Edinburgh the other day, I was informed that the Club is really in danger of dying out because so few younger under 50s) people are interested. The Club had offered a prize to one of the leading Edinburgh independent schools but this had been declined because Scott is no longer popular amongst young people.
Does anyone here read Scott?
I must admit that even when I was at school in the 60s, Scott was already becoming 'old-fashioned', yet my father (born 1912) and his generation had been raised on Scott, and Dad could quote great chunks of it.
Over the years, I have tried to get into Scott, and generally failed miserably. Somehow, the plots seem to be so slow and impenetrable---perhaps my staying-power and concentration require improvement!
Sent: 10/12/2007 1:50 PM
Scott was old fashioned by the time he died. Was he much more than a pulp writer of his time? Quite why he gets that big rocket of a monument is a mystery.
From: MikeAlx Sent: 10/12/2007 2:01 PM
I have an instinct that I wouldn't like Scott - that he'd be too florid and overwrought for my taste - though if memory serves Alasdair Gray, one of my fave authors, is a great admirer.
From: linka_27 Sent: 10/13/2007 2:21 PM
Evening everyone! Just got back from work and am finally sitting down with a nice cuppa! AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!
Don't know what the gravy that's got to do with Ivanhoe but just so relieved to be home so thought I'd share!
Back to the subject, I tried (and failed miserably) to read Ivanhoe a few years back, found it a little bit (or a lot) like wading waist deep in thick dark mud, totally mind numbing, I am sorry to say. Maybe there are others who like his books, but they obviously aren't for me. Have since wondered whether I gave up too soon as I hate leaving books unfinished, but I thnk in this case it is better that it stays that way, the thought of opening it again brings to mind a long day's labour in a chain gang.
From: LatinaMagistra Sent: 10/13/2007 9:18 PM
Ohhh, I loved Sir Walter Scott - he was in the card game Authors that was a childhood favorite of mine. My father and I were talking today about things that are no longer read, to name a few - Walt Whitman, Tennyson, Longfellow.
I'll just add Sir Walter Scott. But, don't you think it was always like this? Surely in the 60's there were things from 1900 that were no longer fashionable in literature? Something that someone in their 50's then would have said "what do you mean you haven't read....don't they teach you anything these days?"
From: KiwiCaro1 Sent: 10/13/2007 10:39 PM
A couple of years ago our book club read Walt Whitman. I loved him - the inclusiveness of his attitudes really appealed to me and the tendency to list things. I remember liking him when a friend and I came across when we were at school (not on the curriculum, just in our private reading).
I wanted to join in the Walter Scott discussion, since I have read one or two of his books. Unfortunately I can't remember even which ones - Ivanhoe I think was one - or much about them. I think I found them a bit hard-going but I find that about a lot of books, especially classic ones, and even ones I really enjoy. I don't recall them being especially syrupy though.
From: MikeAlx Sent: 10/13/2007 11:50 PM
Are Whitman, Tennyson and Longfellow really no longer read? I've read a fair bit of the first two, but of the third, only Hiawatha. I'm surprised if Whitman is no longer read in America - he seems so quintessentially American to me! And 'Dead Poets Society' must have got at least a few people interested.
Personally I find all three more readable than Scott, though admittedly I've only tried Ivanhoe, and that a long time ago.
From: Red__Squirrel0 Sent: 10/14/2007 12:23 AM
Yes, I think to call Scott's work 'pulp' is rather over-the-top. Yes, he wrote because he had to, due to the huge debts he had after the failure of his publishing company, but then, he worked damn hard and repaid all his debts.
Besides, Dickens also wrote huge amounts which were serialised in weekly publications, with the necessary 'cliff-hanger' endings so that the readers would come back for more. That is really no different to the TV soap-operas of today!
Certainly, I understand from friends in the Sir WS Club that the Scottish novels are far better than Ivanhoe, which is understandable, given that the author was a Scot and understood the history and culture of Scotland. The Romantic movement was beginning, with artists and writers travelling to Scotland to admire and record the 'sublime' scenery, the railways were opening up the countryside, and all the oral history was there for the taking.
Scott had a great deal to do with the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, and through Scott's influence on Scottish identity, the culture of tartan etc enveloped even Queen Victoria and 'Balmorality'.
See you in my dreams------you have inspired me to try Scott again!
From: LatinaMagistra Sent: 10/14/2007 6:20 AM
MikeAlex - I know, it is really sad, isn't it, that American kids do not read Whitman anymore. Actually, poetry in general is slightly out of favor with the Advanced Placement curriculum, which (at least where I live) stresses the novel more, as well as more multicultural reading. I think because rote memorization has died out as a teaching tool, kids may have heard of certain authors, but cannot associate verses with who wrote them. Dead Poets Society is also falling out of favor, as it is getting a bit *old*.
From: bookfreak0 Sent: 10/14/2007 6:41 AM
I have a very attractive old set of 24 green tooled leather volumes of Scott's Waverley Novels inherited from my father and obviously well read. I am ashamed to say I have never read them myself, although I did once make a half-hearted attempt at Rob Roy but soon gave up.
I even tried to sell them once, but found no-one was interested.
Never mind....they look lovely on the shelf and match the hall carpet!
From: DaiLowe Sent: 10/14/2007 6:56 AM
I read Whitman. He's one of the books of verse I pull off the shelf regularly. But now I'm here in Scottingland, have been to the little writers' museyroom and even read Hogg, I feel I ought to give Wally a go. I shall ask the Society where best to start. After all I happily spend the Bank of Scotland drink tokens which bear his portrait.
From: Whereorwhen0 Sent: 10/14/2007 2:12 PM
I remember reading Peveril of the Peak in my youth and liking it very much. . I would love to read it again.
I cannot recall ever having seen a copy for sale though, the one I read was borrowed from the school library.
From: HeHireDramaticJet Sent: 10/23/2007 1:09 PM
I read Ivanhoe a long time ago - and must admit I found it pretty dull & turgid. However, his short story Wandering Willie's Tale - which is incorporated into the novel Redgauntlet, and is often found in anthologies of ghost stories - is superb, which makes me suspect there may have been something more to the man than Ivanhoe would lead one to believe.
As for that monstrosity on Princes Street - that Scott Monument - no-one deserves something so grotesque as that.
I haven't read a Walter Scott lately. But I recommend "Heart of Midlothian" which is an engrossing story. The poems are worth seeking out, especially "The Lady In The Lake". But none of Scott is easy reading, and you just have to go along with the knottier parts until you get into the rhythm.
We have a complete leather bound set of Scott's novels at home but I'm afraid I haven't read any of them. I keep meaning to try "Kenilworth" as I lived in Kenilworth at one time and I enjoyed a TV adaptation of the novel that I saw many years ago.
Scott has definately gone out of fashion. In the book "The Test of Time" where various academics and writers nominated which classics deserved their title as a classic and which were over-rated, Scott was the most nominated as over-rated.
However, didn't Tony Blair once claim that "Ivanhoe" was his favourite book? Or is this another example of a politician claiming to like a book that he hasn't actually read?
You lived in Kenilworth, Sandra?? That's my home town. I haven't actually lived there for over 25 years, but my parents are still there - and I am currently in the process of trying to move back there, though it is a slow process.
I too have been meaning to read Kenilworth for years...I have struggled with Scott, and have yet to finish a novel - I loved my children's version of Ivanhoe, but sadly the original failed to hold my attention! But I will try again - by some serendipity, I am at a conference where one of the speakers has just quoted at some length from Kenilworth...then I came here to find your reference to it. It's a sign!
What a coincidence! But I did live in Kenilworth for only six months.