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The Black Dwarf by Walter Scott
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Not all that great a novel, but I read it (and found it interesting) because of a reference to it by Lucasta Miller in The Brontë Myth — one of the characters in Scott's novel is named Earnscliff, which Miller suggests could have been the inspiration of Emily Brontë's naming of the Earnshaw family and of Heathcliff.

In some respects – not a whole lot, but some – we can see some themes from Wuthering Heights in The Black Dwarf. I've yet to read Charlotte's juvenile novella The Green Dwarf, but I have a suspicion that The Black Dwarf may have been an influence on The Green Dwarf considering the general influence of Sir Walter Scott on the Brontës. ( )
  CurrerBell | Sep 30, 2015 |
Sir Walter Scott released an anonymous review of his novel, The Black Dwarf, in which he was very critical, especially with the ending. (I wasn't able to find a copy of the review, so I haven't read it, but it is described in the Wikipedia entry for the novel.) I had some problems with the way the story wrapped up, but it was the beginning that gave me the most trouble. It took me awhile to get used to Scott's writing. There are a few reasons for this, which have more to do with my reading than the writing.

1. It’s 19th Century literature and it always takes me awhile to get used to classics after a period of reading modern works.

2. Some of the characters have Scottish accents, which I had to handle by reading out loud and ignoring some unfamiliar words. Here’s an example:

“Hout awa, man,” answered the farmer, “ye'll hae heard o' Canny Elshie the Black Dwarf, or I am muckle mistaen – A' the warld tells tales about him, but it's but daft nonsense after a' – I dinna believe a word o't frae beginning to end.”

3. I was expecting the dwarf to appear earlier than he did. Instead he was discussed in conversations before he showed up.

Two things kept me reading. First of all, my daughter, who loves 19th Century literature, said this was her favorite Sir Walter Scott novel. Secondly, one of the reviews I read said another reader had trouble getting into the story, but like it once he did. I’m glad I kept going.

The plot is about a dwarf who was betrayed by the few people he trusted. Because he feels people have let him down, he decides to escape to the forest to become a hermit. The villagers who live near this man believe him to be a demon with supernatural powers, but the animals in the forest treat him as they would treat any other human. He finds solace in the animals and just wants the people to leave him alone. Of course, that doesn’t happen. Throughout the story Scott contrasts compassionate people with others who are manipulative and selfish in ways that bring home the points he was trying to make.

I thought Scott hit the readers a little too hard at times and I also didn't like the way the story wrapped up a bit too perfectly. But I loved the idea of a man who decided to escape from humanity and find peace through a natural, solitary life.

Steve Lindahl - author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Jan 24, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159818895X, Paperback)

Sir Edward Mauley is The Black Dwarf, a character based on a very real man of Scott's acquaintance. Mauley becomes involved in the quarrel of a friend -- and, when imprisoned for his actions in that quarrel, finds himself betrayed by the very man in whose cause he lost his liberty. When free, he goes to Mucklestane Moor, where his extraordinary strength, knowledge of medicine, and ready wealth lead the local people to regard him as a supernatural being -- a servant of the Devil. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The story is set just after the Union of Scotland and England (1707), in the Liddesdale hills of the Scottish Borders, familiar to Scott from his work collecting ballads for The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. The main character is based on David Ritchie, whom Scott met in the autumn of 1797. In the tale, the dwarf is Sir Edward Mauley, a hermit regarded by the locals as being in league with the Devil, who becomes embroiled in a complex tale of love, revenge, betrayal, Jacobite schemes and a threatened forced marriage. Scott began the novel well, "but tired of the ground I had trode so often before... I quarrelled with my story, & bungled up a conclusion."… (more)

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