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God & the GothicReligion, Romance, & Reality in the English Literary Tradition$
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Alison Milbank

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198824466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198824466.001.0001

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Black Books and Brownies

Black Books and Brownies

Narrating the Reformation in Walter Scott and James Hogg

(p.176) 8 Black Books and Brownies
God & the Gothic

Alison Milbank

Oxford University Press

Scottish fiction about the Reformation is concerned with the mechanics of historical change, which are rendered through a series of enchanted books and people discussed in Chapter 8. In the novel, The Monastery, describing the Dissolution and Reformation, Scott gothicizes the Bible as a magic book and the White Lady as its guardian to dramatize the mysterious nature of religious change, the dependence of the future on a Gothic past, and the need for interpretation. In Old Mortality, Scott’s protagonist escapes the frozen dualities of Covenanter and Claverhouse, revealing historical change itself as problematic in Humean terms and requiring a leap of faith. James Hogg contests this presentation of the Covenanters by re-enchanting them as supposed brownies, as mediators of history and nature, and in his Three Perils of Man reprises Scott’s wizard Michael Scott pitted against Roger Bacon and his ‘black book’ the Bible to present the Reformation as an eternal reality.

Keywords:   Reformation, Covenanters, Sir Walter Scott, James Hogg, The Monastery, Old Mortality, The Brownie of Bodsbeck, The Three Perils of Man, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, David Hume

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