Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Diamond of the Desert

Diamond of the Desert. Natural fountain amid solitary groups of palm trees and a bit of verdure, located in the region of the Dead Sea. At this oasis, Kenneth of the Couching Leopard and the Saracen Sheerkohf, the Lion of the Mountain, refresh themselves after confronting each other in an inconclusive duel in the desert that gives them a mutual respect for each other. Sir Kenneth is supposedly a poor Scottish knight, who as a mere adventurer has joined the crusaders in Palestine. Emir Sheerkohf (called Ilderim by the hermit of Engaddi) is supposedly a prince descended from the Seljook family of Kurdistan, the same family that produced the Saracen ruler Saladin. However, in this novel, several characters are not what they initially represent themselves to be. In the final two chapters, the Diamond of the Desert becomes the center of Saladin’s encampment.

Cave of Theodorick of Engaddi

Cave of Theodorick of Engaddi. Home of the hermit Theodorick, which is hidden among sharp eminences in a range of steep and barren hills near the Dead Sea. Theodorick (called Hamako by Sheerkohf) is a religious recluse who dresses in goatskins. In chapter 18, he reveals his true identity—Alberick Mortemar, of royal blood. He does constant penance for having corrupted a nun and causing her suicide. As the Scottish knight and Saracen spend a night in Theodorick’s cave, Theodorick leads Sir Kenneth through a secret door and up a staircase into a magnificent chapel while Sheerkohf sleeps.

Chapel of the Convent of Engaddi

Chapel of the Convent of Engaddi. Church hewn from solid rock to which Theodorick takes Sir Kenneth. The...

(The entire section is 700 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Hayden, John O., ed. Scott: The Critical Heritage. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1970. Information on the initial critical reception of The Talisman. Provides reviews ranging from 1805 to an 1883 selection written on Scott by Mark Twain.

Hillhouse, James T. The Waverley Novels and Their Critics. New York: Octagon Books, 1970. Provides reviews of the novels from the time of publication, as well as critical interpretations of Scott in the fifty years following his death. Most criticism of The Talisman is in the first section.

Johnson, Edgar. Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1970. A detailed, thorough discussion of Scott’s biography. Provides a reading of The Talisman that focuses on Scott’s misrepresentation of history and historical figures.

Macintosh, W. Scott and Goethe: German Influence on the Writings of Sir Walter Scott. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1970. Analyzes the history represented in The Talisman, and finds Scott to be fairly accurate and authentic in representing Germany and German culture.

Pearson, Hesketh. Sir Walter Scott: His Life and Personality. New York: Harper & Row, 1954. Follows the life of Scott through his many novels. Finds The Talisman to be one of his weaker novels. Aligns characters of the novel with people Scott may have known. Includes an extended bibliography and index.