Main content

Landmark: Waverley

A special programme exploring Walter Scott's novel Waverley, as Rana Mitter reflects on the writer and the books which helped the British like the idea of Britain.

Today perhaps, Brand Britain is showing its age, but once upon a time it was nothing less than one of the most dynamic political projects in the world. In a Free Thinking Landmark on Walter Scott's Waverley, Rana Mitter reflects on the writer and the books which helped the British like the idea of Britain.

Joining Rana in discussion: the writer, Jenni Calder who has recently adapted 'Waverley' for a modern audience; the poet and literary historian, Robert Crawford, who is interested in the originality and reception of Scott's writing and its affect on the imagination; and Andrew Lincoln, an English literature scholar, who has explored Scott as a forward-looking thinker, one who evoked patriotism in the Unionist cause.

You can find more programmes in the BBC #LoveToRead campaign http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04b5zz8/members
And hear more over the #LovetoRead weekend 5-6 November.

As an acclaimed romantic poet, beloved of Byron, then a best-selling novelist, envied by Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott wrote into existence many of the myths and legends we still re-tell and he used this past to examine and explore the political problems of his own day. Waverley' appeared in 1814 when the Napoleonic Wars had not yet drawn to a close -- and the events the novel describes, the 1745, (when Charles Edward Stuart and his army rocked the stability of a still youthful Anglo-Scottish political Union) were as close in time as the Second World War now is to us. In 'Waverley', 'Rob Roy', 'Red Gauntlet' and 'Ivanhoe', Scott conjured up heroic pasts - not just for Scotland, but for England too - romantic highlanders like Rob Roy on the one hand, the anglo-saxon Robin of the Greenwood on the other. The Waverley novels instilled in their readers a great sense of national pride along with the belief that the two countries, now politically mature, their internal struggles behind them, really could and would be stronger together. In the by-going he conjured up a portrait of the British as an effortlessly multicultural people with deep roots who were now uniquely qualified to take on the world.

Presenter: Rana Mitter

Guests: Robert Crawford: University of St Andrews, 'Bannockburns: Scottish Independence and the Literary Imagination 1314-2014'
Jenni Calder: 'Sir Walter Scott's Waverley': Newly Adapted for the Modern Reader'
Andrew Lincoln: Queen Mary, University of London, 'Walter Scott and Modernity'

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Available now

45 minutes

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Rana Mitter
Interviewed Guest Jenni Calder
Interviewed Guest Robert Crawford
Interviewed Guest Andrew Lincoln
Producer Jacqueline Smith

Broadcast

Featured in...

The Arts & Ideas Podcast

The Arts & Ideas Podcast

You can download all the past episodes of Radio 3's Free Thinking

Click to listen to discussions, talks and music as the Free Thinking Festival 2019 Gets Emotional

Click to listen to discussions, talks and music as the Free Thinking Festival 2019 Gets Emotional

Angry politics, what we can’t say, being diplomatic, weeping, emotion in music, film & TV

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE programmes from the Free Thinking Festival 2018: The One & the Many

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE programmes from the Free Thinking Festival 2018: The One & the Many

We examine the fast-changing relationship between the individual & the crowd

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE all programmes, images, clips & features from 2017's festival

CLICK to LISTEN & SEE all programmes, images, clips & features from 2017's festival

Free Thinking Festival 2017: The Speed of Life