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Scott-land: The Man Who Invented a Nation by…
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Scott-land: The Man Who Invented a Nation (2010)

by Stuart Kelly

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By and large, a thoroughly well-done history of the life and afterlife of Sir Walter Scott. Kelly surveys Scott's literary productions, his inspirations and the many ways in which his works have continued to influence Scottish culture down to the present. If you've got any interest at all in Scott's biography and lasting legacy, by all means read this book.

That said, the organization is quite idiosyncratic, with only the barest sense of narrative cohesion; it's so choppy as to be confusing, and sometimes Kelly's line of argument is completely lost within the deluge of anecdote and detail. I wanted more from Kelly on the tourism to Scottish locations Scott's works prompted, and the sections on how his writing led to so much of what many consider "traditionally Scottish" felt rushed. More than once I wanted to roll my eyes at an attempted joke that just fell flat, and a number of small errors grated.

Perhaps the most frustrating bit for me, though, is that none of the text is footnoted at all, and Kelly goes so far as to poo-poo the very idea of providing a complete bibliography. Grumble grumble. ( )
  JBD1 | Jun 27, 2015 |
Quite a unique biography/history/travelogue covering the impact of Sir Walter Scott on the image of Scotland held by both Scotland and the rest of the world as a result of Scott's writings and political activities. Very well presented, successfully intertwining biographical insight with historical and geographical setting. Kelly admits to developing a grudging admiration for Scott, and his mixed feelings about the author seem to lead to quite a balanced portrayal of the man and his works.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this work to anyone interested in Scott the man, or in how Scottish culture came to be what it is today.

Os. ( )
  Osbaldistone | May 28, 2012 |
My first impression was that there was not as much directly on Sir Walter Scott as I'd hoped for. But I was wrong! It's a fabulous book, and the more I read, the more I want to read. ( )
  RecycledPostgrad | Jan 6, 2011 |
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To my nephews Danny, Frazer and Finlay, wishing
them all 'the will to do, the soul to dare', as Scott
says in The Lady of the Lake, and, as always to Sam,
who like the young Lochinvar has ever been 'so
faithful in love and so dauntless in war'.
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Imagine travelling from London to Edinburgh by train. Somewhere between the ruined cottages on red sandstone cliffs and the austere white cube of a nuclear power station, England changes into Scotland.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Who reads Walter Scott these days? Stuart Kelly explores the enigma of Scott and the disparity between his influence and his status, his current standing and his cultural legacy, in a voyage around Scotland.

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