Name:
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Scott's The Monastery

I seem recently to have had a rebirth of my interest in Sir Walter Scott. I remember back to my high school days when our English reader, Prose and Poetry, contained Ivanhoe. In those days each year we had one novel and one play by Shakespeare as well as a great number of short stories and poems that introduced us to some of the great writers. Ivanhoe may have been the first adult (grown up) novel that I read.

During our trip last fall I picked up a copy of Scott’s Waverly and read it after breakfast each morning. One of the delights of retirement is that you can read for a half-hour or so before getting dressed for the day. Just this morning I finished The Monastery. Scott wrote complex novels, most of which involved local history of the border country and the legendry of that area. This novel also involves the Catholic church, for so long the religion of England and Scotland, and the new Reformation under Queen Elizabeth and the Scottish reformer, Knox.

Part of the story concerns Father Eustace, the sub-prior of St. Mary’s monastery, a strong man at odds with Henry Warden, a preacher of the reformed faith who had once attended a college in France with Eustace. Formerly they were great friends. Another part concerns Julian Avenel, who has usurped the castle and grounds of Mary Avenel, the rightful heir. Driven from her estate, she finds refuge at Glendearg, up a dark and hidden glen. There she is befriended by Dame Glendinning, and her two sons, Edward and Halbert. They have thrust upon them the foppish Sir Pearcie Shafton, all slashed doublets and ringing high-flown speech. Scott does a wonderful job with this character.

In the end there is near conflict between England and Scotland over this fop, who turns out to be not at all what he seems. And there is a good bit of supernatural, for Pearcie and Halbert are at odds and fight a duel. Halbert runs the foppish knight through and flees. But the White Lady of Avenel heals the young man and though he shows the marks of the blade, he is completely healed.

I ramble on. There is a wonderful showdown between the Earl of Murray (Scotland) and the Earl of Morton (England). But all’s well that ends well. A fine story. But by today’s standards of writing, the syntax is overblown. It takes a while to become accustomed to the language but for me it was well worth the effort. My next breakfast book is likely to be from a more recent writer, Jeffrey Farnol. Still not contemporary, but 1920s. And after that Stevenson’s Catriona, the sequel to Kidnapped.

4 Comments:

Blogger Bill Crider said...

I should try to read Scott again. I read Ivanhoe many years ago, but that's the extent of it.

6:21 AM  
Blogger gianniguelfi said...

When I saw Ivanhoe the movie, with Robert and Elizabeth Taylor, I was about 7. The book I read it only many years after.
But Scott's stories served not only the movie industry. One of Gioacchino Rossini's most romantic operas, Lady of the Lake, is based on Scott's novel of the same name.
Cheers

gianni

8:50 AM  
Blogger gianniguelfi said...

BTW, here's my address

http://gianniguelfi.ilcannocchiale.it

It's mostly in italian, except the last post where I give, in english, the recipe of the REAL pesto sauce.

g :D

4:21 PM  
Blogger gianniguelfi said...

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4:22 PM  

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