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Legitimate HistoriesScott, Gothic, and the Authorities of Fiction$
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Fiona Robertson

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112242.001.0001

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Phantoms of Revolution: Five Case-Studies of Fictional Convention and Social Analysis

Phantoms of Revolution: Five Case-Studies of Fictional Convention and Social Analysis

Chapter:
(p.196) 5 Phantoms of Revolution: Five Case-Studies of Fictional Convention and Social Analysis
Source:
Legitimate Histories
Author(s):

Fiona Robertson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112242.003.0006

This chapter focuses on some elements in Scott's novels which remain defiantly conventional in terms of the fashionable literature of his day, and which have largely succeeded in de-selecting themselves from subsequent critical scrutiny as marginal, inferior, or uninspired. Critical dissatisfaction with these apparent lapses is not obtuse, but rather too sensitive to the narrator's implied system of values. Scott is able to use Gothic conventions as variously and experimentally as he does precisely because he always leaves it open to readers to dismiss them as inauthentic. This process is especially complex in works which, like The Antiquary and The Heart of Midlothian, contain sustained parodies of sensationalist fiction and use its conventions to signal ideologies their narrators want to expose as false. The chapter presents five sample case-studies of the ways in which Gothic complicates the social, political, and historical interpretations of individual works.

Keywords:   Walter Scott, Gothic conventions, Gothic fiction

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