Scott's use of the supernatural in the Waverley novels




Boatright, Mody C. (Mody Coggin), 1896-1970

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This study began as a part of a larger project, namely, an analytical investigation of Scott's narrative technique as exemplified in his novels. As the work progressed, what was originally intended as a subsidiary study assumed in my mind sufficient importance to justify longer and more detailed treatment. The technique of prose fiction has received far less attention than that of the epic, the drama, and the short story. The mass of conflicting dogma concerning novel technique proceeds in part from the relative scarcity of analytical studies of the works of novelists of recognized importance. An inquiry into Scott's use of the supernatural--an attempt to show what lore of superstition he utilized, what aims guided him in the use of such lore, and what technique he employed in shaping it,--should not be without value. Moreover, such an inquiry should furnish a gateway into Scott's mind. Knowing how Scott dealt with the supernatural, we are in better position to define his relation both to the eighteenth and the nineteenth century, and to evaluate more exactly the quality of his imagination