Robert C. Gordon (essay date 1969)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gordon, Robert C. “Waverley.” In Under Which King? A Study of the Scottish Waverley Novels, pp. 11-25. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1969.

[In the following excerpt, Gordon evaluates Waverley as a historical/political novel, focusing on its Jacobite theme and Scott's presentation of character.]

“… the contest between the loyalists and their opponents can never be obsolete …”


The incorporating Union that brought England and Scotland under one government in 1707 was, paradoxically, both a typical example of eighteenth-century political jobbery and a...

(The entire section is 4690 words.)

John Henry Raleigh (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Raleigh, John Henry. “Waverley as History; or, 'Tis One Hundred and Fifty-Six Years Since.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 4, no. 1 (fall 1970): 14-29.

[In the following essay, Raleigh depicts Waverley as a realistic novel written in the satirical mode of the eighteenth century but also concerned with the progress of history and featuring a proto-modern hero.]

It was as history that Waverley and the Waverleys made their great impact, and it is history that they are really about. And like history itself the appeal was and is multifarious and many-layered. What appealed to the nineteenth century was Scott's concrete reconstruction of the past,...

(The entire section is 8284 words.)

Mark M. Hennelly (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hennelly, Mark M. “Waverley and Romanticism.” Nineteenth Century Fiction 28, no. 2 (September 1973): 194-209.

[In the following essay, Hennelly analyzes Waverley as a romantic novel characterized by Scott's extensive use of myth, dialectic, and romance elements in the narrative.]

Since Morse Peckham's now classic article, “Toward a Theory of Romanticism,”1 published in 1951, Romanticism has been picked to the bone by critical dissection and each of its parts labeled and catalogued. It is now time, I think, to reassemble and enflesh the skeleton by the close scrutiny of a single work that embodies those three elements of Romantic...

(The entire section is 6321 words.)

Kenneth M. Sroka (essay date 1980)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sroka, Kenneth M. “Education in Walter Scott's Waverley.Studies in Scottish Literature 15 (1980): 139-64.

[In the following essay, Sroka argues that the theme of education is central to Waverley, especially as it pertains to the tension between reality and imagination in the novel.]

Early in the third chapter of Waverley (titled “Education”), the narrator pauses in his discussion of Edward Waverley's formal education to speak at length about the danger of excessively

rendering instruction agreeable to youth … an age in which children are taught the driest doctrines by the insinuating method...

(The entire section is 9396 words.)

Alexander M. Ross (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ross, Alexander M. “Waverley and the Picturesque.” In Scott and His Influence: The Papers of the Aberdeen Scott Conference, 1982, edited by J. H. Alexander and David Hewitt, pp. 99-108. Aberdeen: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1983.

[In the following essay, Ross discusses imagery of landscape and character in Waverley, concentrating on Scott's use of picturesque theory and conventions in structuring his novel.]

‘From the splendid yet useless imagery and emblems with which his imagination was stored’, Edward Waverley conjured up, says Scott, ‘visions as brilliant and as fading as those of an evening sky’ (Waverley,...

(The entire section is 4641 words.)

Joseph Valente (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Valente, Joseph. “Upon the Braes: History and Hermeneutics in Waverley.Studies in Romanticism 25, no. 2 (summer 1986): 251-76.

[In the following essay, Valente probes Scott's conception of history in Waverley, emphasizing the symbolic and thematic dialectic of romance and history illustrated by opposing characters and geographical locations in the novel.]

Scott's vision of history has become something of a critical chestnut: theses on it have passed through numerous restatements, and disputes have been thoroughly recycled. The same questions Lukacs and even Coleridge thought central are felt to be so today. As a result, the historiographical...

(The entire section is 10516 words.)

Louise Z. Smith (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Smith, Louise Z. “Dialectic, Rhetoric, and Anthropology in Scott's Waverley.Studies in Scottish Literature 21 (1986): 43-52.

[In the following essay, Smith contends that Scott synthesized the modern historical novel in Waverley by grafting “dialectical rhetoric” and “anthropological historicism” to the existing elements of eighteenth-century fiction.]

'Tis forty-eight years since Georg Lukács invented in The Historical Novel (1937) the definition of historical fiction for modern readers. Scott invented the “entirely new”1 historical novel, Waverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since (1814) for Lukács. But who...

(The entire section is 3231 words.)

Ina Ferris (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ferris, Ina. “Re-Positioning the Novel: Waverley and the Gender of Fiction.” Studies in Romanticism 28, no. 2 (summer 1989): 291-301.

[In the following essay, Ferris observes that the publication of Waverley in 1814 prompted a critical reevaluation of the novel by associating the genre with seriousness, rationality, and the accurate depiction of history and culture.]

When Henry Brougham reviewed The History of the Maroons in the Edinburgh Review in 1803, he emphasized its incompetence as a history by linking it generically to the novel: “The style is thoroughly wretched, and the composition is precisely that of a...

(The entire section is 4684 words.)

David Oberhelman (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Oberhelman, David. “Waverley, Genealogy, History: Scott's Romance of Fathers and Sons.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 15, no. 1 (1991): 29-47.

[In the following essay, Oberhelman reorients the debate concerning Scott's historicism in Waverley from a dialectic of history and romance to a thematic opposition of genealogy and teleological history.]

As the first English “historical novel,” Walter Scott's Waverley introduces a set of complicated genre distinctions that affect his entire corpus. “History” and “romance,” the two terms Scott problematizes in his presentation throughout the Waverley Chronicles, become the focal points...

(The entire section is 7053 words.)

Marilyn Orr (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Orr, Marilyn. “Real and Narrative Time: Waverley and the Education of Memory.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 31, no. 4 (autumn 1991): 715-34.

[In the following essay, Orr examines Scott's representation of time, imagination, history, and memory in Waverley.]

Beginning in Waverley, Scott the novelist sets himself “the task of tracing the evanescent manners” of the traditional culture of Scotland, for “there is no European nation which, within the course of half a century or little more, has undergone so complete a change as the little kingdom of Scotland.”1 Conscious of the completeness of this change, he writes in...

(The entire section is 8778 words.)

Claire Lamont (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lamont, Claire. “Waverley and the Battle of Culloden.” Essays and Studies 44 (1991): 14-26.

[In the following essay, Lamont investigates thematic inconsistencies between the romantic and historical plots of Waverley, considering Scott's motive for intentionally relegating to the background the devastating defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden.]

Walter Scott's first novel, Waverley, is set in the years 1744-46 and deals with the rising on behalf of the Jacobite claimant to the throne of George II known as ‘the '45’. The decisive battle of those years was that at Culloden in April 1746 where the Jacobites were finally...

(The entire section is 5155 words.)

Paul Hamilton (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hamilton, Paul. “Waverley: Scott's Romantic Narrative and Revolutionary Historiography.” Studies in Romanticism 33, no. 4 (winter 1994): 611-34.

[In the following essay, Hamilton assesses Scott's writing in Waverley as historicist, while illuminating Scott's ironic treatment of romanticism and his philosophical distance from revolutionary ideology in the work.]

More than most romantic novels, Scott's inaugural Waverley places itself within the contemporary scene of writing, reviewing its own possibilities quite openly—Gothic tale, Germanic romance, sentimental or fashionable upper-class yarn—and self-consciously pondering the...

(The entire section is 10899 words.)

Saree Makdisi (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Makdisi, Saree. “Colonial Space and the Colonization of Time in Scott's Waverley.Studies in Romanticism 34, no. 2 (summer 1995): 155-87.

[In the following essay, Makdisi explores the mythic geography of the Scottish Highlands in Waverley and the related temporal and spatial conflicts between England and this imagined Scotland. The critic closes by suggesting that Scott's novel contains an implied justification of Highland subjugation by the British.]


It would be only a small exaggeration, I think, to say that the images that many of us associate with the Scottish Highlands have their origins in Walter...

(The entire section is 15392 words.)

Wolfram Schmidgen (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schmidgen, Wolfram. “Picturing Property: Waverley and the Common Law.” Studies in the Novel 29, no. 2 (summer 1997): 191-213.

[In the following essay, Schmidgen studies the theme of property in Waverley, particularly as it relates to the legitimatization of Scotland's absorption by Great Britain.]

In Sir Walter Scott's Waverley (1814), landed property functions as a register of political and cultural change. A number of critics have emphasized property's importance for Waverley. Ian Duncan, for example, persuasively argues that the Bradwardine estate is the “true secret place” of Scott's novel, a point of crystallization for...

(The entire section is 10132 words.)