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The Monastery

Walter Scott
Edited by Penny Fielding


Find Out What Scott Really Wrote

Going back to the original manuscripts, a team of scholars has uncovered what Scott originally wrote and intended his public to read before errors, misreadings and expurgations crept in during production.

The Edinburgh Edition offers you:

  • A clean, corrected text
  • Textual histories
  • Explanatory notes
  • Verbal changes from the first-edition text
  • Full glossaries

Title Description

Set on the eve of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, The Monastery is full of supernatural events, theological conflict and humour. Located in the lawless Scottish Borders, the novel depicts the monastery of Kennaquhair (a thinly disguised Melrose Abbey, whose ruins are still to be seen near Scott's own home at Abbotsford) on the verge of dissolution, and the fortunes of two brothers as they respond to a new social and religious order. Highlights of the narrative include a moving encounter between two representatives of opposing sides in the Reformation controversy who had been students together in less troubled times, and the final formal procession of the Kennaquhair monks as the Reformed forces arrive. A talking-point when the work was first published, the mysterious spectral White Lady, guardian of the magical Black Book, still intrigues readers. A strong comic element is provided by Sir Piercie Shafton with his absurd linguistic mannerisms fashionable at the English court. The narrative is preceded by one of Scott's most charming and playful introductory exchanges between the fictional local antiquary Cuthbert Clutterbuck and the Author of Waverley.

About the Author

Sir Walter Scott, was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet. Many of his works remain classics and include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.

Penny Fielding is Senior Lecturer in English and Scottish Literature at the University of Edinburgh and one of the General Editors of the New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. Her books include Scotland and the Fictions of Geography: North Britain 1760-1830 (CUP, 2008) and Writing and Orality: Nationality, Culture and Nineteenth-Century Scottish Fiction (OUP, 1996) as well as an edition of Scott's The Monastery for the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels (Edinburgh EUP, 2000).


Willl certainly be the definitive scholarly edition of Scott for the foreseeable future. The notes and emendation lists … evince years of thorough, diligent research into manuscripts, editions, sources, references, and allusions. The information will give the serious reader inestimable help in understanding Scott.
Penny Fielding's new edition of Scott's second departure from his recent Scottish history, The Monastry, contains a facinating account of how this novel came into being before the success of Ivahoe was assured, and for this alone it would be a valuable resource for the serious student of Scott's work. Yet it is also an impressive work of textual scholarship, while being the first fully-annotated edition of one of the moe critically neglected of the Waverly series. Scott enthusiasts … owe a debt of gratitude to Penny Fielding for making the novel available in such a helpful, scholarly, but still thoroughly readable form.
These latest volumes in the Edinburgh Edition afford fascinating insights into Scott's career as a novelist in the 1820s. The Edinburgh Edition is always alert to Scott's working practices and circumstances of the author and his publishers at the time of the genesis, composition, and production of the individual novels. These volumes are no exception. The editors describe with lucidity and eloquence the significance of these works within Scott's career, the processes of their composition and production, and the historical context of the novels.
The Edinburgh Edition respects Scott the artist by 'restoring' versions of the novels that are not quite what his first readers saw. Indeed, it returns to manuscripts that the printers never handled, as Scott's fiction before 1827 was transcribed before it reached the printshop. Each volume of the Edinburgh edition presents an uncluttered text of one work, followed by an Essay on the Text by the editor of the work, a list of the emendations that have been made to the first edition, explanatory notes and a glossary … The editorial essays are histories of the respective texts. Some of them are almost 100 pages long; when they are put together they constitute a fascinating and lucid account of Scott's methods of compostion and his financial manoeuvres. This edition is for anyone who takes Scott seriously.
The best and most thoroughly pioneering textual editing project in the history of Scottish literary scholarship … In the Edinburgh Edition, the specifics of the various transmissional layers are dealt with in an “Essay on the Text”, particular to each novel, and each essay would make for an excellent primer in modern, rigorously empirical practices of textual editing. These essays uncover the archaeology of Scott's compositional practice based upon an exhaustive trawl through letters to and by Scott, James Ballantyne, Robert Cadell and others. They also make as much sense as possible of the transition between manuscript and first edition and between the significant printed editions of each text. Along with emendation lists much more extensive than any before in editions of Scott, this extensive apparati represents many hundreds of hours of work by the volume editor, by research assistants and by the general editor…It is the transparency, consistency and boldness of the Edinburgh edition in creating a kind of hyper-socialised text (where so much which was manifestly designed for inclusion and demonstrably lost through error first time around is recovered) which makes it such a courageous example of empirical text editing….these volumes continue the process of the Edinburgh Edition in providing the best textual and annotational maps of Scott-land.

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