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Archive for the ‘Walter Scott’ Category

Having finished “The Master of Ballantrae”

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Why did it take so long? It’s not a very heavy book? Nowadays I read books mostly while being out, in the subway or in a pub. At home I watch TV, read blogs, blog myself etc. Unlike Dickens and Walter Scott, Stevenson concentrates on the very action and does not give much details of landscape and gear and such. This may be the “plain” thing about the book, but it makes the story strong. It’s a long time since I read something this fascinating, even more and more towards the end.

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January 7, 2011 at 18:20

Having begun “The Master of Ballantrae”

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My pen is clear enough to tell a plain tale; but to render the effect of an infinity of small things, not one great enough in itself to be narrated; and to translate the story of looks, and the message of voices when they are saying no great matter; and to put in half a page the essence of near eighteen months – this is what I despair to accomplish.
Robert Louis Stevenson: The Master of Ballantrae, Chapter II.
It seems to me Stevenson excuses himself because his novels are not so heavy as those by Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. But I wonder if that makes them “plain”?

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December 13, 2010 at 21:39

Having finished “Angels and Demons”

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They say Dan Brown is a bad writer. I disagree. His style is simple, yes, but that is not the same thing. He writes like a teacher, outright and steadfast. A teacher he was once, certainly. As for the inaccuracies of contents, well, fiction is fiction. If you use knowledge as stuff for a tale it is not forbidden to have some fun with it. Even Walter Scott tampered with history, and yet he has been honoured for “having invented the modern historical novel”, as Wikipedia has it.
I also observe that if there is any excellence in Brown’s style, it occurs in the dialogue. For example the conversation in A & D chapter 31 between Robert and Vittoria on the plane to Rome is brilliantly written. The acting characters are allowed to shine brightly while the storyteller stays in a humble position.

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March 17, 2010 at 10:54

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Having finished “Waverley”

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The story of a young English officer who by a series of coincidences gets into fighting against his army gives much to reflect upon, and many questions to ask. I doubt whether there has ever been a first novel by any author that has made such an impact on the very milieu where it was created. If you go by train to the centre of Edinburgh, you arrive at Waverley Station. Imagine there could be a Pickwick Station in London, or a Gare Quasimodo in Paris? Or a Red Room Station in Stockholm? It also seems that the growing enthusiasm for “the author of Waverley” who was at first anonymous, gave popularity to the then obsolete kilt as a Scottish national attire.

In this novel, there are more mentionings of whisky than of brandy, quite naturally since the great part of the plot is located in Scotland or among Scots.

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February 5, 2010 at 10:00

Having finished “Rob Roy”

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The real Robert Roy McGregor ended his life in peace, although there had been so much violence around him. The film starring Liam Neeson is about other episodes from his life than those in Walter Scott’s novel. The novel is somewhat difficult to read because of the Scottish dialect. I like to hear it spoken, but reading it in transcription not that much. I leave the last word to Andrew Fairservice, the worthy countryman:

Our ain reek’s better than other folk’s fire.

Our own smoke is better than the fire of others. There is no place like home.  It is Friday night, and soon I will put my TV on to watch the crime series  “Taggart” – from Scotland!

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October 16, 2009 at 18:07

Glasgow revisited, in imagination only, alas

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“I beg a truce to your terrors in the present case, Andrew, and I wish to
know whether you can direct me the nearest way to a town in your country
of Scotland, called Glasgow?”

“A town ca’d Glasgow!” echoed Andrew Fairservice. “Glasgow’s a ceety,
man.–And is’t the way to Glasgow ye were speering if I ken’d?–What suld
ail me to ken it?–it’s no that dooms far frae my ain parish of
Dreepdaily, that lies a bittock farther to the west. But what may your
honour be gaun to Glasgow for?”

“Particular business,” replied I.

From Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott,  vol II chapter 1.

I am reading it right now, and sure it brings memories!

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October 5, 2009 at 21:19

Edinburgh at a glance

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When I get back to Scotland, don’t know when but I certainly will, I wish to spend sensible time in Edinburgh, which I failed to do two years ago, because I had too much trouble getting to Rosslyn. I knew there were buses, but I didn’t know there were three bus companies running at the same poles, that was confusing! The Walter Scott Monument is fascinating though, even from behind. Inside the Rosslyn Chapel photographing is now prohibited, which it was not in 2007.

Walter Scott with gull

Rosslyn devil2

Dan Brown is a liar, but a very entertaining one. I like both the book and the film a lot.

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June 14, 2009 at 11:35