Waverley 2
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Waverley 2. Outline. British fiction in transition – Waverley and the novel Gender and genre The masculinized novel Waverley as the novel of novels in the Romantic era. British fiction in transition. The novel before and after the Romantic period (see Burney, Austen)

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Waverley 2

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Waverley 2

Waverley 2



  • British fiction in transition – Waverley and the novel

  • Gender and genre

  • The masculinized novel

  • Waverley as the novel of novels in the Romantic era

British fiction in transition

British fiction in transition

  • The novel before and after the Romantic period (see Burney, Austen)

  • Henry Brougham on The History of the Maroons in Edinburgh Review (1803): ‘The style is thoroughly wretched, and the composition is precisely that of a novel’

British fiction in transition1

British fiction in transition

  • Thomas Babbington Macaulay in Edin-burgh Review (1828) advises contem-porary historians to learn lessons from the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott, which deploy ‘those fragments of truth which his-torians have scornfully thrown behind them’

British fiction in transition2

British fiction in transition

  • A re-positioning of the novel in the hier-archy of diverse genres of writing

  • Scott’s extraordinary success with the Wa-verley Novels makes the novel into a maj-or genre

  • See T. H. Lister on Scott’s achievement in Edinburgh Review (1832)

British fiction in transition3

British fiction in transition

  • Lister: ‘[Prior to the publication of Waverley the novel was the form] the least respected in the whole circle of literature, [whereas now it takes] a place among the highest productions of hu-man intellect’

  • (For a full-length study of the reception of WS and JA, see Annika Bautz, The Reception of Jane Austen and Walter Scott (2007))

  • What is it about Scott as a novelist and Waver-ley as a novel that explains this remarkable transition in British fiction?

Gender and genre

Gender and genre

  • See Ina Ferris, ‘Re-Positioning the Novel: Waverley and the Gender of Fiction’, Stud-ies in Romanticism, 28 (1989), 291-301

  • See also Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nation-alism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (1997)

Gender and genre1

Gender and genre

  • Trumpener: ‘Walter Scott … repoliticized (and masculinized) the novel by reinsert-ing it into the larger social field it had occ-upied with Defoe, Fielding, and Smollett…. the national tale and the historical novel might seem to represent differently gend-ered ways of situating characters, cultures, and history’ (p. 132)

Gender and genre2

Gender and genre

  • The gender of genre – fiction as ‘feminine’ and verse as ‘masculine’

  • Fiction as ‘feminine’: the producers and consumers of novels into the Romantic period are predominantly female

  • Fiction as ‘feminine’: the legacy of ‘ro-mance’ in the novel makes the form seem less than fully serious

Gender and genre3

Gender and genre

  • Verse as ‘masculine’: a more serious form of literature, more technically and intellect-ually demanding than prose fiction

  • Verse as ‘masculine’: utilizes elevated, dignified forms of language, and draws on wider learning and experience

Gender and genre4

Gender and genre

  • Ferris: ‘The name of Walter Scott – name of a famous poet, respected scholar, and undisputed gentleman – immediately dis-tinguished Waverley in a period when the novel was not only held in low critical es-teem but also (a not unrelated point) re-garded as dominated by women to a de-gree unusual even for a genre that had been closely linked to women since the mid-eighteenth century’ (pp. 293-94)

Gender and genre5

Gender and genre

  • Ferris: ‘. . . the assumptions about genre are inseparable from assumptions about gender’ (p. 294)

  • Assumptions about gendered genre con-stitute the critical context of the reception of Waverley

  • Scott’s novel seen, in the reviews, as marking a return to the novel of respon-sibility, rationality, public concerns

The masculinized novel

The masculinized novel

  • Scott’s regendering of genre, with the Waverley Novels – the masculinized novel (poetry as newly ‘feminine’ – e.g. Percy Shelley, John Keats)

  • Defining characteristics: epic historical sweep (compare the relative ‘confinement’ of CR or MP); variety of mode, scene, and characterization; emphasis on fact and historical accuracy

The masculinized novel1

The masculinized novel

  • Ferris: ‘After the intervention of Walter Scott, the debate about fiction in the nine-teenth century occupied a different ground. The genre was now accorded a literary authority and cultural centrality that it had not been granted at the turn of the century, largely because the Waverley Novels had ensured that the novel could no longer be perceived as the confined genre of a confined gender’ (p. 301)

The masculinized novel2

The masculinized novel

  • What of women’s relation to the newly masculinized novel?

  • Mary Shelley: anxiety about appearing in print

  • The Brontës: use of ‘androgynous’ pen names

  • Marian Evans: use of a male pen name

Waverley as novel of novels

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • W as a novel the opposite of ‘confined’

  • Commenting on his choice of title, WS indicates that he could have proceeded in a number of different directions with his work

  • See W, vol. 1, ch. 1

Waverley as novel of novels1

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • ‘Had I … announced in my frontispiece, “Waverley, a Tale of Other Days”, must not every novel-reader have anticipated a castle scarce less than that of Udolpho …’ (cf. Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udol-pho (1794))

Waverley as novel of novels2

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • ‘Again, had my title borne, “Waverley, a Romance from the German”, what head so obtuse as not to image forth a profligate abbot, an oppressive duke, a secret and mysterious association of Rosycrucians and illuminati’, etc.

Waverley as novel of novels3

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • ‘Or if I had rather chosen to call my work a “Sentimental Tale”, would it not have been a sufficient presage of a heroine with a profusion of auburn hair’, etc.

  • ‘Or again, if my Waverley had been en-titled “A Tale of the Times”, wouldst thou not, gentle reader, have demanded from me a dashing sketch of the fashionable world’, etc.

Waverley as novel of novels4

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • WS demonstrates his own understanding of the contemporary gendering of genre where the feminization of fiction is con-cerned

  • ‘… an author so profoundly versed in the different branches of his art’ (W, vol. 1, ch. 1)

  • WS plays with the ‘feminine’ codings of the novel itself

Waverley as novel of novels5

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • W located outside the context of women’s production and consumption of fiction

  • ‘From this my choice of an æra [‘’Tis Sixty Years Since’] the understanding critic may farther presage, that the object of my tale is more a description of men than man-ners’ (W, vol. 1, ch. 1)

  • The ‘novel of manners’ a ‘woman’s’ form…

Waverley as novel of novels6

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • WS aims to write a new kind of (gendered) fiction

  • Acknowledges influences from both men and women writers

  • Postscript (vol. 3, ch. 25): ‘It has been my object to … emulate the admirable Irish portraits drawn by Miss Edgeworth’

Waverley as novel of novels7

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • Postscript: ‘Two works upon similar sub-jects [national manners], by female au-thors, whose genius is highly creditable to their country, have appeared in the in-terval; I mean Mrs Hamilton’s Glenburnie, and the late Account of Highland Super-stitions [by Mrs Grant]’

Waverley as novel of novels8

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • Dedication: ‘These Volumes Being Respectfully Inscribed to Our Scottish Addison, Henry Mack-enzie, by An Unknown Admirer of His Genius’

  • Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling (1771) (Joseph Addison, English classical scholar)

  • On W as a ‘bookish’ novel, see Peter Garside, ‘The Baron’s Books: Scott’s Waverley as a Bib-liomaniacal Romance’, Romanticism, 14/3 (2008), 245-58

Waverley as novel of novels9

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • The less ‘confined’ W is as a novel – play-ing with gender codings, wide range of influences – the more it is able to present itself as a new form of prose fiction

  • The ‘unconfined’ W opens up the novel for the male gender (within a male-dominated society)

  • Scott as a pivotal novelist . . .

Waverley as novel of novels10

Waverley as ‘novel of novels’

  • The coded masculinity of WS as a novelist and of W as a novel is what explains the decisive role played by this particular novelist in promoting, from 1814 on, a remarkable transition in British fiction

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