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Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy   By: (1844-1912)

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In "Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy," author Andrew Lang delves into the life and work of one of Scotland's greatest literary figures, Sir Walter Scott. Known for his contributions to Scottish poetry and historical novels, Scott's fascination with Border minstrelsy is put under the spotlight in Lang's insightful examination.

Lang skillfully uncovers the deep-rooted connections between Scott's upbringing in the Scottish Borders and his enduring enthusiasm for the rich folklore and balladry of the region. By exploring Scott's early exposure to the captivating stories and songs circulating in his community, Lang uncovers the genesis of Scott's profound interest in preserving the Border traditions.

The book takes the reader on a journey through Scott's life, providing captivating anecdotes and intimate details of his encounters with various minstrels and their ballads. With a unique blend of historical analysis and personal insights, Lang offers a comprehensive portrait of the ways in which Scott's immersion in Border minstrelsy shaped his literary career.

One of the highlights of Lang's work is the meticulous research he undertakes to capture the essence of Border minstrelsy. Drawing on an array of primary sources, Lang manages to paint a vivid picture of the world in which Scott found inspiration. He expertly explores the origins, themes, and melodies of the ballads, effortlessly contextualizing them within the broader historical and cultural climate.

However, the true strength of this book lies in its ability to showcase Scott's transformative impact on Scottish literature. Through his careful investigation of Scott's use of Border minstrelsy in his own writings, Lang paints a comprehensive picture of the prominent role it played in the shaping of Scott's novels and poems. It is in this exploration that Lang's expertise in both Scott's works and Border minstrelsy truly shines.

While the book may, at times, delve into meticulous detail that might be overwhelming for readers less familiar with Scott's works, Lang's passion for the subject shines through and keeps the narrative engaging. By intertwining his own passion for the topic with captivating storytelling, he effectively conveys the significance of Sir Walter Scott's contributions to both Scottish literature and the preservation of Border minstrelsy.

In conclusion, "Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy" stands as a valuable addition to the body of literature exploring the life and works of this legendary Scottish writer. Andrew Lang's thorough research, combined with his passion and expertise in the subject matter, offers readers a fascinating glimpse into the world of Border minstrelsy and its indelible influence on the works of Sir Walter Scott.

First Page:



Preface Scott and the Ballads Auld Maitland The Ballad of Otterburne Scott's Traditional Copy and how he edited it The Mystery of the Ballad of Jamie Telfer Kinmont Willie Conclusions


Persons not much interested in, or cognisant of, "antiquarian old womanries," as Sir Walter called them, may ask "what all the pother is about," in this little tractate. On my side it is "about" the veracity of Sir Walter Scott. He has been suspected of helping to compose, and of issuing as a genuine antique, a ballad, Auld Maitland. He also wrote about the ballad, as a thing obtained from recitation, to two friends and fellow antiquaries. If to Scott's knowledge it was a modern imitation, Sir Walter deliberately lied.

He did not: he did obtain the whole ballad from Hogg, who got it from recitation as I believe, and try to prove, and as Scott certainly believed. The facts in the case exist in published works, and in manuscript letters of Ritson to Scott, and Hogg to Scott, and in the original MS. of the song, with a note by Hogg to Laidlaw. If we are interested in the truth about the matter, we ought at least to read the very accessible material before bringing charges against the Sheriff and the Shepherd of Ettrick... Continue reading book >>

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