Chapter 1 examines the case of The Heart of Mid-Lothian (1818) in order to reflect on the multiple roles that a nineteenth-century novel could play as a medium of cultural memory. The main concern is with explaining the qualities that made Scott’s fiction memorable and describing the dynamics of its afterlife. The novel is presented as a ‘portable monument’, meaning a stable point of reference as well as a story that could be re-written, appropriated and transformed in new contexts. The cultural life of the main character, Jeanie Deans, is thus traced from her origins in oral culture to the novel, to its later adaptations in the theatre and material life. In the process, the multiple and shifting roles of the novel in shaping cultural memory are shown: a relay-station for oral stories, public forum, complex narrative, cultural icon, and object of changing critical appropriations.
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