Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Castle of Plessis-les-Tours

*Castle of Plessis-les-Tours (pleh-SEE-lay-TEWR). Royal French stronghold situated two miles south of the ancient capital of Touraine, in and around which the early phases of the story take place. Quentin makes his first appearance at a treacherous ford on a fast-running brook, a tributary of the Cher River, after which he reposes briefly at Saint Hubert’s Chapel before going to the castle. Important settings within the castle include the Hall of Roland and its surrounding gallery, where Quentin secretly observes Princess Joan and her attendants; the tower where the astrologer Galeotti Marti, or Martivalle, is lodged in richly furnished apartments, with his library of Hermetic Philosophy and his silver astrolabe; and the Dauphin’s tower, where the two countesses of Croye are lodged.


*Namur (NAH-mewr). Town in Flanders (now the capital of a Belgian province) where Quentin and the countesses obtain lodgings at a Franciscan convent while they are traveling to Liege. When their guide Hayraddin is expelled from the convent for licentious behavior, Quentin follows him into the nearby woods and discovers his apparent treachery.


*Liege (leej). Region of the Low Countries that is now a province of Belgium; its capital city is situated at the junction of the Ourthe and Meuse (“Maes” in the novel) Rivers. The castle of Schonwaldt, the residence of the bishop of Liege at the time of...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Hart, Francis. Scott’s Novels: The Plotting of Historic Survival. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1966. Excellent discussion of historical background, providing insight into the characters of Charles of Burgundy and Louis XI. Analyzes the theme, the importance of power in politics, and raises questions about the difficult moral issues raised by political allegiance.

Johnson, Edgar. Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1970. Extensively researched biography exploring Scott, both as a man and as a writer. Provides clear summary of action and good analysis of character, theme, and setting, showing a society in which basic values have broken down, forcing the protagonist to fit into this corrupt world without losing his soul. An excellent introductory source.

Shaw, Harry E. The Forms of Historical Fiction: Sir Walter Scott and His Successors. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983. Compares Quentin Durward to the other Waverley novels, discussing plot structure and noting that Scott described Louis XI as the novel’s central character.

Sutherland, John. The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1995. Describes Scott’s research for a new setting, studying maps of France. Compares details in the plot to incidents occurring in Scott’s private life.

Wagenknecht, Edward. Sir Walter Scott. New York: Continuum, 1991. Clear, detailed discussion of the political background, theme, and characterization. Asserts that Quentin Durward is a realistic hero, while the characterization of James I is the finest in the novel.