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Philosophical history in Scott's Waverley novels

Sabbah, Youssef. (2003) Philosophical history in Scott's Waverley novels. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

Ibis study explores Scott's vision of historical progress and how its impact on various as~ls of hWlli:m lift: is rdlt:d.cu iu his Swlli:sh llovds. Ct:uiral lo lhis :sludy alt: l;i Vil; and heroic virtues in the contexts ofreligio~ family, nationalism, politics, economy, law !"-!n.d J~u~ti·ce. It f:all", m' to Qll m' t .. nAn"tl·on <:'1V "hQptp .. <:, and Q con"hus' nn Th ..... .I.e _ _ "'..I.tJ ~ "' ..... "" ....... \.01."'.. ..., ~..I..ilL '" "'" """.I. ~~ .1. \.4 ..I. vi. .&.V.&...L introduction sets these concerns in the context of Scottish philosophy and history and argues that Scott rejects Burke's absolutism but looks for a more flexible and rational evolution of the institutions and principles that make for social cohesion. The fIrst chapter argues that Scott's historicism is not the product of a mixture of Romantic and Enlightenment attitudes, of sympathy or nostalgia and rationalism or progressivism. Rather it is derived from the so-called "philosophical" historians of the Sl;olli:sh Eu1ighlt:IIIUt:llL For tilt::st! wrilt:rs, tilt: inui viuualislll of llloUClll OOIlllIlt:ll;ial society had been a problematic development, since unchecked individualism might ultll'matel" mnAenn"np secl'a! cohp<:'~on np"es<:'Q!"V .foo" Q11 hmmQn +lOUD' <:,h;no S"ott l' <:' tbn<:' ... ] AU.", .I. .Lll.l", ..I.'&""'V.I. .......... '" lr.A.4..&. J A.. .&. U-A...1. .. U • .&.I.J.. L.&. .1.t...J'.LJ,...L.11.6. v "" ........ .1'-k.1 the inheritor of a rationalist, progressive philosophy of history, but one with welldefmed reservations about progress and modernity. The second chapter questions the traditional reading of Waverley as a mixture of Romantic nostalgia and Enlightenment skepticism about "primitive" societies. Scott's Highlanders, I argue, function not simply as colourful quasi-Romantic primitives, but as the embodiment of civic and heroic virtues, which renders the novel a Scottish Elllighlt:lJlllt:ul parablt: 011 Ult: illui~]Jt:IlSabili l y of "l;i Vil; virlUt:." The third chapter deals with Old Mortality, a novel now often read as a sort of Hobbesian critique of the seventeenth-centut'Y British civil wars. Indeed, the civic virtue of the parties involved in the conflict is displayed in such a light that selfIsh individualism might seem preferable. But on comparing the novel's treatment of the civil wars to that of David Hwne's History of England, I show that Old Mortality is a profOlll1d meditation on the fundamentally social constitution of human nature, and that it defends rather than belittles public-spiritedness. In the fourth chapter I show how Scott undercuts the political conflict in Rob Roy by reducing it to a sorl of dash of cullures which nt:verlhdess share ct:rlain values. Using J.G.A. Pocock's seminal work, Virtue, Commerce, and History, I suggest that Scott calls for a.~ updating of civic virtue. Chivalric Honour mutates into Credit to meet comnlercial needs, and to defme social relationships. Also, Scott attempts a synthesis of the otherwise antagonist principles of Burke and Paine concerning family affairs. The virtue of paternal piety, as a cohesive force, is redefmed as mutual understanding rather than dictatorship. Scott recognizes the law of inheritance but submits it to civil law. The fIfth chapter deals with The Heart of Midlothian. The novel, I argue, gives civic virtue a religious dimension by making it providentially recognized. Skeptical of secular valut:s in establishing lhe gtmuine civil society, lht: novd legilimizes a moral aUlonomy that derives from rational and progressive religion. Moral autonomy in this sense defInes actions of mundane authority in whatever capacity, domestic, political, e"""nomical and judicial. Updating religion in one of its aspects, I show, aims at asserting Scottish national and cultural identity, given the fact that historically the Kirk has always been one of its crucial components. On the other hand, the novel attempts to define the tense relationship between Scotland and England within the Union in terms of moral values. Taken in the context of colonization, the novel focuses on vices infIltrating into English commercial society, which in a similar manner are transferred into Scottish society, and illlt:Utcn iht: 1ll0lalily of illt: Brilish nalion allalgt:. The sixth chapter on Redgauntlet focuses on Scott's treatment of loyalty as a civic viItue illlllOl~ than Ull~ OOl1l~xL In Ul~ oolli~xi uflaw am1 ju~li~, luyalty i~ IIH.xlifit!d lu operate under the rubric of personal integrity and civil courage ° In the political context, lOt ".., 1°" defimp,.l ... ""'" mO J.~.I. tPT'Tn" .&. ... .£.~ of "&'."'''''''.1. T'I<>t;on<>l .U,04..... consenssu" .I. tJ..i....i.j, Tn the """'..., Pr'Ano.I.v ... Tn &.... l°(' ...... context .I. '" ~ "-., ;t .I.... oJ "up~rt" pv ~ advancement as long as it operates within commtmal interest. The concluding chapter uses Guy Mannering~ The Antiquary and The Bride of Lammermoor to support the thesis that Scott's fictional dealings with history in the "Scottish" novels is directed to an accommodation of ancient virtues with present forms of society and nationhoodo

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Literature Mass media Performing arts
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of English Literature
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 14 May 2015 04:04
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2016 14:06
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4038
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