Literary Memory: Scott's Waverley Novels and the Psychology of Narrative

Literary Memory: Scott's Waverley Novels and the Psychology of Narrative

Literary Memory: Scott's Waverley Novels and the Psychology of Narrative

Literary Memory: Scott's Waverley Novels and the Psychology of Narrative

Synopsis

"Catherine Jones' Literary Memory explores the relationship of memory to writing in the "long" eighteenth century in Scotland and America. It does so by arguing for Walter Scott's adaptation and development in the Waverley Novels of varieties of "literary memory" from the philosophy and psychological theory of the Scottish Enlightenment." "In the eighteenth century, philosophy (defined broadly as thinking about knowledge, existence, and being) became inseparable from psychology (the science of the mind). Locating Scott within this rich intellectual context, Jones explores his understanding of, and narrative transformation of, various forms of literary memory, while judiciously distinguishing Scott's complex and influential achievement from later Freudian theories and representations. Casting the cultural and historical perspective wider still, this book also offers a lucid and original account of the ideological rejection of the cultural synthesis represented by Scott's "literary memory" by the New England romance writers, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, and Nathaniel Hawthorne." "Theoretically and historically grounded, Literary Memory will appeal to all those interested in the writings of Scott, the Scottish Enlightenment, Romantic cultural history, the history of the novel, narrative theory, and literature in relation to psychology and psychoanalysis." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The subject of this book is the relationship of memory to writing. Its purpose is to draw together three different but related kinds of inquiry. First, it approaches the history and theory of memory in the long eighteenth century to focus on the philosophical and literary writing of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Scotland. Debates about the significance and working of memory and the nature of cognition were recurrent and contentious throughout the period, and were particularly pronounced in Scotland, where the psychological tradition of Common Sense philosophy developed in response to the sceptical metaphysics of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40). This book examines the importance of these debates for the literature and culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: Walter Scott is exemplary, as his thinking about memory was conditioned by the epistemological arguments of the Scottish Enlightenment. Secondly, then, this book is a study of Scott’s rhetoric of memory and his engagement with, and transformation of, Enlightenment psychological categories, most significantly in the Waverley Novels. Thirdly, this book is concerned with the role of memory in literary creativity. Scott viewed his compositional processes in terms derived from Enlightenment psychology, and this book sets these insights against Freudian theories of literary creativity to form a new understanding of the relationship between memory and writing.

Memory has long exerted a universal fascination, and there is a rich and varied history of writing on the subject. the terms of debate in the eighteenth century are displayed in the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1797) under the entry “Metaphysics,” written by the Episcopalian clergyman George Gleig of Stirling, who had taken over the editorship of the Encyclopaedia in 1793. the Encyclopaedia had its origins in Edinburgh in the 1760s in the partnership of Colin Macfarquahar, a printer, and Andrew Bell, an engraver. in its optimistic universalism and comprehensive view of the main branches of knowledge, the first edition, compiled by the printer and scholar William Smellie, was a . . .

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