Anniversary call on Scott reputation

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An academic is calling for Walter Scott’s reputation as Scotland’s greatest writer to be revived as his novel Waverley marks its 200th anniversary.

Professor Alison Lumsden, of the University of Aberdeen, said that criticism of Scott for the creation of a “shortbread tin lid” perception of Scotland should be put aside and the complexity of his work recognised.

Academics from around the globe will be gathering in the city this week at a conference to discuss his legacy, the role he has had in shaping ideas of Scotland, and the ways in which his work is relevant today on an international stage.

Professor Lumsden, from the Walter Scott Research Centre at the University of Aberdeen, said: “At the time of the publication of Waverley in 1814 Scott was already a best-selling poet and the anonymous Waverley was soon to become a phenomenal success, with sales of the novel outstripping those of all others combined that year.

“But Scott has often been given a bad press for producing a redundant image of Scotland that is based on tartan, stags and romantic Highland scenery. This is far from the full picture and the more we read his work and talk about it to those outside Scotland the more we recognise its complexity.

“While some of the many adaptations of Scott offer such cliched stereotypes of Scotland, Scott writes fiction that confronts many of the issues that are relevant for Scotland today and offers surprisingly modern conclusions.”