The Afterlives of Walter Scott: Memory on the Move

ISBN : 9780198806400

Ann Rigney
328 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jul 2017
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Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was once a household name, but is now largely forgotten. This book explores how Scott's work became an all-pervasive point of reference for cultural memory and collective identity in the nineteenth century, and why it no longer has this role. Ann Rigney breaks new ground in memory studies and the study of literary reception by examining the dynamics of cultural memory and the 'social life' of literary texts across several generations and multiple media. She pays attention to the remediation of the Waverley novels as they travelled into painting, the theatre, and material culture, as well as to the role of 'Scott' as a memory site in the public sphere for a century after his death. Using a wide range of examples and supported by many illustrations, Rigney demonstrates how remembering Scott's work helped shape national and transnational identities up to World War I, and contributed to the emergence of the idea of an English-speaking world encompassing Scotland, the British Empire, and the United States. Scott's work forged a potent alliance between memory, literature, and identity that was eminently suited to modernization. His legacy continues in the widespread belief that engaging with the past is a condition for transcending it.


1 Portable Monuments
2 Procreativity: Remediation and Rob Roy
3 Re-scripting Ivanhoe
4 Re-enacting Ivanhoe
5 Locating Memory: Abbotsford
6 Commemorating Scott: 'That Imperial Man'
7 How Long Was Immortality?
Epilogue: Cultural Memory, Cultural Amnesia

About the author: 

Ann Rigney was born in Dublin, educated at University College Dublin and the University of Toronto, and is currently professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University. She was elected a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences in 2005. She has published widely in the field of cultural memory, philosophy of history, and nineteenth-century historiography. Her books include The Rhetoric of Historical Representation: Three Narrative Histories of the French Revolution (Cambridge UP, 1990) and Imperfect Histories: The Elusive Past and the Legacy of Romantic Historicism (Cornell UP, 2011).

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