Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Finally, I finished Waverly, which had its moments. Looking at the novel in its context, I can see why, in the early nineteenth century, it was such a phenomenon. Though it's hard to imagine now, it must have been quite the page-turner with its young, romantic hero getting into and out of scrapes with regularity--kidnappings, brigands, battle scenes, executions, a love story--it pretty much had it all. It also had the novelty of being a story based on historical events--but not very remote ones (60 years), so that many readers probably knew who the characters were based on and might have had some connection to the rebellion, either through their own families or acquaintances. I think Scott really jump-started the novel form as we know it. Before him, there were lots of epistolary novels, there were the comic romps of Fielding and Sterne, and Defoe's rather dark stories. But Scott swept in the big, historical/romantic epic which is one of the standard novel forms today.

Anyway, I shall now rest on my Scott laurels, having read Ivanhoe (with much more pleasure) and Waverly. There are a lot of choices for my next novel--Zadie Smith, Rushdie, Frederick Busch, new Doctorow, the new Booker winner by John Banville...

No comments: