Scott's Books is an approachable introduction to the Waverley Novels. Drawing on substantial research in Scott's intertextual sources, it offers a fresh approach to the existing readings where the thematic and theoretical are the norm. Avoiding jargon, and moving briskly, it tackles the vexed question of Scott's 'circumbendibus' style head on, suggesting that it is actually one of the most exciting aspects of his fiction: indeed, what Ian Duncan has called the 'elaborately literary narrative', at first sight a barrier, is in a sense what the novels are primarily 'about'.
The book aims to show how inventive, witty, and entertaining Scott's richly allusive style is; how he keeps his varied readership on board with his own inexhaustible variety; and how he allows proponents of a wide range of positions to have their say, using a detached, ironic, but never cynical narrative voice to undermine the more rigid and inhumane rhetoric.
The Introduction outlines this approach and sets the book in the context of earlier and current Scott criticism. It also deals with some practical issues, including forms of reference and the distinctive use of the term 'Authorial'. The four chapters are designed to zoom in progressively from the general to the particular. 'Resources' explores the printed material available to Scott in his library and gives an overview of the way he uses it in his fiction. 'Style' confronts objections to the 'circumbendibus' Scott and shows how his Ciceronian style with its penchant for polysyllables enables him to embrace a wide range of rhetoric relayed in a detached but not cynical Authorial voice. 'Strategies' explores how he keeps his very wide audience on board by a complex bonding between characters, readers, and Author, and stresses the extraordinary variety of exuberant inventiveness with which he handles intertextual allusions. 'Mottoes' examines the most remarkable of Scott's intertextual devices, the chapter epigraphs, bringing into play the approaches developed in the previous chapters. The brief concluding 'Envoi' moves out again to the widest possible perspective, suggesting how readers should now be able to move on to, or return to, the novels and the critical conversation, with an appreciation of the central importance of the ludic for an appreciation of Scott in a world once again threatened by inhumane and humorless rigidities.
Acknowledgments. Abbreviations. Introduction.Chapter 1: Resources. Chapter 2: Style. Chapter 3: Strategies. Chapter 4: Mottoes. Envoi. Notes. Index.