Friday, May 25, 2007

Scott's "Rob Roy" & our Course subject

The first lecture, course week two, on Rob Roy did position the novel as terminus a quo for the course, but I want to be certain that I had made the point sufficiently well.

In the early years of the century, Scott's novel encodes as deeply as possible -- in structure, character, setting, plot, narrative -- the decadency of civilisation and the health & purity of rude places and people. Too obvious to be seen to present readers is the very fact that the novel's explicitly historical setting is effectively an invention of Scott's to that purpose.

One dimension of the fundamental opposition that the text represents, not covered in lecture, is presented in the following dictum from Rob Roy himself:
'Let it come, man--let it come,' answered MacGregor: 'ye never saw dull weather clear without a shower; and if the world is turned upside down, why, honest men
have the better chance to cut bread out of it.'
This formula -- a martial clash vivifies & purifies a decadent Age -- was to be repeated, heinously, almost exactly a century later, as the drumbeat of an entirely unnecessary and unforgivably-conducted war sounded to the same effect in the second decade of the twentieth century ....

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