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The Antiquary by Sir Walter Scott
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
The Antiquary was Walter Scott’s third novel, set like the first two in Scotland in the 18th Century. Again, the novel is as much of value for entertainment as it is as an historical record of life in Scotland at that time, with all its cultural intricacies of dialect and language, manners and mannerisms, social conditions, and characters. Like the unforgettable gypsy Meg Merilless from his novel Guy Mannering, the mendicant Edie Ochiltree here provides a fully drawn and lifelike character with a similar though in many ways unique role in the plot. Again, based on a person known to the author in his youth, what we have is another masterpiece of observation in human nature, and idiosyncracy linked to bygone ways of life. The Antiquary of the title arguably plays supporting lead to the beggar, though he is none the less unique in his peculiarities that spring to life from the page. In more second rate supporting roles we have Lovell, the real protagonist of the plot, and the German con-artist Dousterswivel who plays the pantomime baddy with conviction.
In terms of plot we have some predictability, with the end being guessable well before we get there, though when we do get there the novel ends very abruptly, as if Scott did not spend the time and effort on wrapping it up that he did on most of the rest of the story. There are some very good scenic and atmospheric set piece scenes, which together with the historical and social interest make this arguably at least as good or better than Scott’s first two novels. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | May 21, 2019 |
The third book in Scott's Waverley series. Another well told yarn set in an historic background (1790s this time). I found the plot a little contrived - another lost heir, but not to the point of affecting my enjoyment of the writing. I was interested to read later that this book was one of Scott's personal favourites. Also remarkable to read how quickly it was written and published - Scott was under financial pressure, and was putting out these books at a manic pace. One of the central roles in this book is a "licensed" beggar, who is given very sympathetic treatment, continuing Scott's generosity towards people on the fringes of society (in Guy Mannering it was the "Gypsy Queen"). ( )
  mbmackay | Sep 6, 2018 |
A lovable novel that can be strongly recommended to any fan of 19th Century fiction. ( )
  PatrickMurtha | Aug 26, 2016 |
The best of the Waverly novels in my opinion. I loved the Latin throughout. ( )
  skieper | Nov 26, 2012 |
This is said to be one of Scott's less popular works, but most people find the Scots dialect and abundant humor very pleasing. Mr Jonathan Oldbuck is the Antiquary, endowed with a gift for quaint sayings and "garrulous knowledge". The Antiquary's friend, Sir Anthony Warden has a beautiful daughter, Isabella, who is as wise as she is virtuous. Her honor is beset by the conniving Herman Douster-Swivel who pretends to be an adept in the black arts. As in all of Scott's masterly novels, the plot is complex and the characters are colorful and memorable.
  TrysB | May 28, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
When we turn to The Antiquary we meet another side of Scott's talent; his humour. I wonder how many of those who, like myself, had not read Scott since their schooldays will recall that Scott is one of the great comic writers? It is not purely Scottish humour, depending on the canniness of the speaker or on a continuous sly, nervous snigger, or on the grotesque and pawky asides of dialect. Scott’s humour, like his best prose, is cross-bred with the English eighteenth century. Sterne and Fielding have put red blood into it. A character like Jonathan Oldbuck does not make thin jokes down his nose, but stands solidly and aglow beside all the well-found comics of our literature. The secret is that Scott’s animal spirits are high, as Fielding’s were...

I can read about half of The Antiquary and enjoy the flavours of what I read. After that I skip through the preposterous plot and willingly leave the wooden Lovel and the disdainful Miss Wardour to the pleasure of talking like public statues to each other. In one respect it must be admitted they do surpass modern lovers. Severely regulated by their families and by circumstance, these antique couples are obliged to know their subject. The obstacles to love ensure that the lovers shall concentrate.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew York Review of Books, V.S. Pritchett
 
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Epigraph
I knew Anselmo. He was shrewd and prudent,
Wisdom and cunning had their shares of him;
But he was shrewish as a wayward child,
And pleased again by toys which childhood please;
As--book of fables graced with print of wood,
Or else the jingling of a rusty medal,
Or the rare melody of some old ditty,
That first was sung to please King Pepin's cradle.
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It was early in a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance, having occasion to go toward the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and the Queensferry, at which place, as the name implies, and as is well known to all my northern readers, there is a passage-boat for crossing the Firth of Forth.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192831879, Paperback)

The Antiquary, Scott's personal favorite among his novels, is characteristically wry and urbane. A mysterious young man calling himself 'Lovel' travels idly but fatefully toward the Scottish seaside town of Fairport. Here he is befriended by the antiquary Jonathan Oldbuck, who has taken refuge from his own personal disappointments in the obsessive study of miscellaneous history. Their slow unraveling of Lovel's true identity will unearth and redeem the secrets and lies which have devastated the guilt-haunted Earl of Glenallan, and will reinstate the tottering fortunes of Sir Arthur Wardour and his daughter Isabella.
First published in 1816 in the aftermath of Waterloo, The Antiquary deals with the problem of how to understand the past so as to enable the future. Set in the tense times of the wars with revolutionary France, it displays Scott's matchless skill at painting the social panorama and in creating vivid characters, from the earthy beggar Edie Ochiltree to the loquacious and shrewdly humorous Antiquary himself.
The text is based on Scott's own final, authorized version, the "Magnum Opus" edition of 1829.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:04 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Published in 1816, and set during the wars with revolutionary France, this novel Scott's personal favorite of all his works features a mysterious young man, Lovel, whose arrival at the Scottish seaside town of Fairport exposes long-buried secrets and crimes involving the guilt-ridden Earl of Glenallan and a beautiful young woman, Isabella Wardour.… (more)

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