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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fictional historical fiction from the Scottish master
I find "Redgauntlet" one of the less satisfactory novels in the Waverley series. Certainly, it has the local flavor, the dialect, the imaginative description of evocative landscapes all his novels have, but it is not a blast as some of the others are. The plot involves a fictitious third Jacobite rebellion, and it is interesting to see how Scott (especially in...
Published on January 2, 2001 by Michel Aaij

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
It's a good book. I could bet the best of Walter Scott. There are some typos, but the are not a big bother.
Published 14 months ago by Albert


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fictional historical fiction from the Scottish master, January 2, 2001
By 
Michel Aaij (Montgomery, AL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Redgauntlet (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I find "Redgauntlet" one of the less satisfactory novels in the Waverley series. Certainly, it has the local flavor, the dialect, the imaginative description of evocative landscapes all his novels have, but it is not a blast as some of the others are. The plot involves a fictitious third Jacobite rebellion, and it is interesting to see how Scott (especially in the notes from the Magnum edition, included in this edition) argues this time not for the historicity but for the historical probability of the events described. While Scott is often hailed as the inventor of the historical novel, "Redgauntlet" also shows him to be a forerunner in the historically probable novel--a genre practiced to great effect by our present-day history buff, Umberto Eco.
But probability alone does not a great novel make. Darsie Latimer's character is even less probable than his semi-historical counterparts, such as Edmund Waverley and Henry Morton. And this is strange, since moving further into fictionality, one could argue, a writer might allow themselves more latitude to make a character interesting, even if certain circumstances remain historical. Is this a conscious effort on Scott's part to show, after the fictionality of history, the fictionality of fiction?
Scott disturbs narrative conventions even further when the conspiracy against the Hanoverian King George III completely fails to materialize--ironically, for what seems to be the silliest of reasons: the Pretender (or the Chevalier if you're a Jacobite), Charles Stuart, refuses to give up his mistress. Thus, the main plot of the novel sizzles out and really not much happens in these 400 pages. Mind you, I personally don't need much to happen, but the 19th century novel did. Scott as a postmodern writer? That is pushing it too far, but this novel awaits a postmodern critique enlightened by a reading of Eco and Bakhtin.
That said, there are some really interesting things going on. Apart from the "regular" set of characters of Scott's Scottish novels, this one features an orthodox Quaker who is the epitome of anti-militant mercantilism. The form is also quite new for Scott--the novel is an epistolary, a set of letters between Darsie Latimer and his friend Alan Fairford. Thus, the novel's first-person point of view is split, and this provides for interesting contrasts.
For me, Scott sort of shot himself in the foot with this novel. His earlier novels ("Redgauntlet" is the last of the Scottish novels, written eight years before his death) lead one to expect a major action to happen before the denouement, and this one avoids that a bit too artificially. It seems that Scott was at pains to stick to history, and his own political convictions, a bit too much: a fictitious Jacobite rebellion is OK as a narrative vehicle, but it shouldn't interfere with the peaceful Great Britain (in which Scotland was in many respects subsidiary to England) that Scott himself inhabited and advocated. And so narrative excitement has to give way to Scott's pacifist politics--an honest choice, which Scott consistently maintains in all the Waverley novels--and character development and politics take precedent.
A final note: Scott has always proven himself a masterful and honest critic of royalty and nobility, especially of those characters he seems to love. "Waverley"'s Mac-Ivor is chastised for his political obstinacy, in "The Fortunes of Nigel" King James I (a Scot) is rebuked for his fickleness and corruption, and in "Redgauntlet" the formerly charismatic Stuart proves effeminate and tragic (dying an impoverished alcoholic, in the footnotes). And often enough, these tragic characters are of more interest than the somewhat ineffectual and sometimes foolish main characters: something for readers of literature to sink their teeth into.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last of the Jacobites, May 14, 2005
By 
Mr Peter G George (Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redgauntlett (Hardcover)
Redgauntlet is generally considered to be one of Scott's best novels. It is set in 1765 and returns to the theme of his first novel Waverley, describing an attempt to overthrow the Hanoverian monarchy and return Britain to the rule of the exiled Stuarts. Of course there was no Jacobite rising in 1765, so Redgauntlet is not, strictly speaking, an historical novel. The story however is consistent with the history of the period and plausibly shows what might have happened. The novel is all the more powerful and poignant because he does not attempt to create an imaginary rebellion on the scale of 1745, but rather describes a revolt which history might have been unaware of, a last small scale, almost pathetic, attempt to resurrect a cause which had already, long since, been lost.

The story is initially told by means of a series of letters between Darsie Latimer and Alan Fairford, two young friends who have grown up together. There is a mystery regarding Darsie's family origins. He knows almost nothing about his background except that he must not set foot in England until he is 21. Gradually, as Darsie discovers more about the secrets surrounding his life, he is brought deeper into a conspiracy. Alan is warned by the beautiful "Green Mantle" that Darsie is in danger. But Darsie fails to heed the warning and soon faces a man who knows all about his past, the fearsome Redgauntlet.

Scott tells the story well. The epistolary form works well enough, given the at times inherent implausibility of this way of writing, where letters go on for an unreasonably large number of pages. The story is exciting with lots of incident and action and a good number of surprises. The romantic element of the plot is unusual involving both Alan and Darsie with "Green Mantle". Perhaps best of all is the genuinely creepy short story "Wandering Willie's Tale" which lives up to its reputation as the best short story in Scots. This story is often anthologised, but it is even better when read in its proper context.

The edition of Redgauntlet edited by G.A.M. Wood and David Hewitt is undoubtedly the best possible version of Scott's text. This edition takes as its base text the first edition. The editors have also consulted Scott's manuscript and, unusually in the case of Redgauntlet, the proofs, which show Scott's corrections to the first draft of the printed text. By doing this the editors have been able to restore many lost readings and correct numerous mistakes. In addition this edition has a full glossary and extensive notes. A little effort is required to read Redgauntlet, as Scott's language can at times be quite difficult, but this effort is amply rewarded, for his story of the last rising of the Jacobites is one of his greatest creations.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The muted sunset of the Stuart Dynasty of Scotland and England, May 25, 2006
By 
In his 1824 novel REDGAUNTLET, Sir Walter Scott says farewell to the dethroned Stuart Dynasty with its colorful, haughty claims to the Crowns of Scotland and England. Law and a commercial order comfortable to property owners have taken root by the time of the third Hanoverian King and displaced the older claims of personal and clan loyalty to a God-anointed sovereign. England, and increasingly Scotland, now make up a nation of shopkeepers and overseas traders and their souls are content. Even those of smugglers.

The two principal characters, men in their early 20s, can be objects of gentle fun, as they hastily and clumsily grow up. Yet these youngsters (and two young women they meet and admire) represent the future of the United Kingdom. Initially, in the summer of 1765, the two, newly minted lawyer Alan Fairford and his dreamy laid-back alter-ego Darsie Latimer, are at least a little bit open to the romance of the "auld days." Like many Romantic Movement heroes, Darsie is not sure who he is. In addition to the usual reluctance to allow himself to be defined by profession, church, state, older adults, etc., Darsie does not know who were his parents. Strong hints are that he will know as soon as he turns 21. Meanwhile he is to avoid leaving Scotland at any cost. Alan has delicate health and is the dutiful son of an overbearing lawyer of Edinburgh. He uncharacteristically rebels and strikes out on his own when Darsie is violently carried away across the firth of Solway into northwestern England. That deed was done by persons unknown but increasingly suspected to be using Darsie as a pawn. Slowly, it becomes clear that Darsie's rebel uncle, Hugh Redgauntlet, is using the young hero to mobilize support for a fresh rising in England and Scotland to put the Old Pretender back on a throne that he had rolled the dice for 20 years earlier in the crushed rising of 1745.

There are many ways and levels for reading Scott's historical novels. One, followed by thousands since Scott's death in 1832, is to find lessons for today's world in the pasts of England and Scotland. Many Americans grew up in a world echoing the skepticism of Nanty Ewart (Vol. II, Ch. 13, p. 250), "Tell that to the marines -- the sailors won't believe it." And might not the US in Iraq in 2006 spring to mind when Darsie Latimer is said to fall easily in and out of puppy loves like a "Mahratta conqueror, who overruns a province with the rapidity of lightning, but finds it impossible to retain it beyond a very brief space" ( Vol. III. Ch. 4, p. 290).

Or we can enjoy REDGAUNTLET for its striking comparisons. Darsie, for example, has learned enough of the uncle who kidnapped him to know that his laying on violent hands had been for no personal gain. "... he could as soon have imagined Cassius picking Caesar's pocket, instead of drawing his poniard upon the Dictator" (p. 293). And "Freedom of religious opinion brings on, I suppose, freedom of political creed" ... (p. 303).

REDGAUNTLET is a wise, complex tale by one of the world's greatest story tellers.

-OOO-
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4.0 out of 5 stars Be aware of the format!, December 4, 2014
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This review is from: Redgauntlet (Paperback)
I enjoyed the novel as one in the complete works of Walter Scott as downloaded to my Kindle. I wanted a hard copy of it to give to some of the "Steen"s in our family, since Teen is the surname of one of the minor characters. So I was delighted to find a paperback version. Be aware: This paperback is 8½ x 11, typed, and weighs over 1 lb!. You will not be tucking it in your pocket. This may all have been mentioned, but I did not notice it in the description. Four stars only because it was available at all. Others have reviewed the plot quite well; I found it enjoyable.Contemporary crictics considered this to be one of Scott's best books, partially because it was plausible but not based on a historic incident. Perhaps the artistic license taken with some of the actual historical events was more disturbing to them because it dealt withwhat was to them fairly recent history, much like we would feel about liberties taken with accounts of the battles our fathers fought in WWII. (Spoiler alert) Later reading revealed that Charles did indeed refuse to give up his mistress, who was suspected of being an English spy and endangering his Scottish supporters, not because of his fondness for her, but because he refused to allow a "subject" to dictate in any way to a king with divine right.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Redgauntlet by Walter Scott, July 1, 2014
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This review is from: Redgauntlet (Kindle Edition)
The language is stilted, the plot is confusing, and the characters are not clearly drawn. I ended up going to Wikipedia to obtain a clearer view of the history of Scotlands and the role of the Jacobites.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, December 30, 2013
By 
Albert (Cuernavaca, México) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Redgauntlet (Kindle Edition)
It's a good book. I could bet the best of Walter Scott. There are some typos, but the are not a big bother.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Redgauntlet, December 18, 2013
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This review is from: Redgauntlet (Kindle Edition)
This book was a little bit of a drudge starting out, since I did not know really what to expect; but 25% into the book or so it started to get more interesting.

And the more I read, the more interesting and suspenseful it got. Only at the very end, the plot pretty much deflated.

There are many different characters that grace the scene. from the middle class gentry, to fishermen, smugglers, Calvinists, Papists, Jacobites,etc..

And some Quakers, whose theology in this book can be summed up in a quote (from Redgauntlet) as:

“Mr. Geddes,” said I, “ought to apply to the civil magistrate; there are soldiers at Dumfries who would be detached for his protection.”
“Thou speakest, friend Latimer,” answered the lady, “as one who is still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. God forbid that we should endeavor to preserve nets of flax and stakes of wood, or the Mammon of gain which they procure for us, by the hands of men of war and at the risk of spilling human blood.”

G.A. Henty has wrote a few books on this time period in history, such as "Bonnie Prince Charlie", and "A Jacobite Exile", I have found these books much more interesting than Redgauntlet.

I did learn a few things from Redgauntlet, so it was not all for naught.

In conclusion: Don't expect another Ivanhoe when you read this one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, November 14, 2014
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This review is from: Redgauntlet (Kindle Edition)
Good story but very "wordy" which drags out the story
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Redgauntlet (Oxford World's Classics)
Redgauntlet (Oxford World's Classics) by Sir Walter Scott (Paperback - November 19, 1998)
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