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Walter Scott and the Limits of Language

Alison Lumsden

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Scott's startlingly contemporary approach to theories of language and the creative impact of this on his work are explored in this new study. Alison Lumsden examines the linguistic diversity and creative playfulness of Scott's fiction and suggests that an evolving scepticism towards the communicative capacities of language runs throughout his writing. Lumsden re-examines this scepticism in relation to Scottish Enlightenment thought and recent developments in theories of the novel. Structured chronologically, the book covers Scott's output from his early narrative poems until the late, and only recently published, Reliquiae Trotcosienses

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Abbreviations and Permissions
Introduction: The ‘Poverty’ of Words
1: ‘Living in a World of Death’: Scott’s Narrative Poems
2: Speaking my Language:
Waverley, Guy Mannering and The Antiquary
3: ‘Dying Words and Last Confessions’:
The Heart of Mid-Lothian
4: Lost in Translation: Ivanhoe, The Fortunes of Nigel and Peveril of the Peak
5: ‘Narrative Continued’: Redgauntlet and Chronicles of the Canongate
6: Last Words: Count Robert of Paris, Reliquiae Trotcosienses
and Castle Dangerous

About the Author

Alison Lumsden is a senior lecturer in the School of Language & Literature at the University of Aberdeen and co-director of the Walter Scott Research Centre. She was for many years research fellow and then General Editor for the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels and has published on several Scottish authors including Robert Louis Stevenson, Nan Shepherd and Louis Grassic Gibbon. She is about to begin work on a scholarly edition of Scott's poetry.


A lucid, wide-ranging, and provocative study that relates his creativity to his skepticism.
- Nancy Moore Goslee, Studies in Hogg and his World: Number 23, 2013