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Rob Roy (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Jul 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed. / edition (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199549885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199549887
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ian Duncan is Barbara and Carlisle Moore Professor of English at the University of Oregon.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Didier on 15 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sir Walter Scott obviously will not be publishing any new novels, so the 'so far' in the title of my review refers solely to my personal appreciation of the novels by Scott I've read until now, to wit Waverley; or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World's Classics), The Antiquary (Oxford World's Classics), Redgauntlet (Oxford World's Classics) and Old Mortality (Oxford World's Classics). I remember beginning - just a few weeks ago - 'Waverley' with some trepidation: surely Scott's reputation hadn't declined since the early 20th century merely by coincidence? And what with the dialogues in Scottish, would I even understand what was being talked about? Looking back now, I could almost kick myself for not having read these magnificent novels earlier in life. Indeed, some of them are better than others, but all of them are deservedly classics and well worth the read.

'Rob Roy' is no exception to the rule. As in several other of Scott's 'Waverley novels' the outline of the plot is basically a young Englishman ending up in Scotland where he gets entangled in local affairs (often as not one of the Jacobite uprisings against the house of Hannover), and emerges from the story a wiser and more mature man. On another level, the book also investigates, as usual with Scott, the ambiguous relation between Scotland and England since the Union of the two in 1706.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
The Wilds of Scotland 5 April 2011
By S. Pactor - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A couple years ago I started reading through the books listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It's a cheesy project, made more cheesy by the fact that the title of the book is wantonly deceptive: "1001 Books" should say "1001 Novels" since the Novel is the only type of book recommended. My biggest problem is maintaining a steady supply of books to read, and my thought was that this would be "crap insurance" i.e. prevent me from descending into a pathetic diet of genre fiction. It was rewarding when I was reading through the 18th century: the novel was just rounding into shape, and the English language was non-standardized to the point where each book was a different linguistic adventure.

However, at about this time last year I paused on the threshold of the 19th century- in front of me lay the more familiar terrain of Austen and the Bronte sisters, and I was far from eager to dive into this terra cognita. A couple months ago, I made a feint towards forward progress by reading Peter Ackroyd's excellent and epic Charles Dickens biography, but it wasn't until I was reading about narrative themes in 19th century popular song that I decided on the first book I would read from the 19th century list: Sir Walter Scott's Rob Roy.

First of all, Rob Roy was a hit- "The first edition, published on 31 December 1817, sold out it's huge print run of 10,000 copies within two weeks; two more editions were printed by the end of 1818." Second of all, Rob Roy started a fashion for the Scottish highlands that moved outside of the world of the novel and square into "popular culture" inspiring songs, plays and tourism. So I thought it would be interesting if I could read Rob Roy and understand the "why" of Rob Roy being such a huge hit.

And I'm reporting back: It's quite clear, after reading Rob Roy, why it was a hit. First of all, in the 15 plus years since the end of the 18th century, the English language became standardized to the point where non dialect speaking characters are easily comprehensible. Second of all, Scott draws upon already popular themes- the earlier parts of Rob Roy read like an outtake from an 18th century Gothic novel. Third, Roy is developing a newer novelistic genre- the historical novel, that was a la mode at the time of publication.

Reading Rob Roy was almost- almost- like reading a well written genre novel today: the characters did expected things in unexpected ways, and the scenery along the way was beautiful. Again and again I asked myself why this would be considered a "classic" rather then an 1817 version of "popular fiction" and for that, I have no answer. I am baffled by the discourse of Literature as practiced in the American academy. What a pointless, useless, waste of time, money, energy and human intelligence. Does one really need to read a book on uses of Gothic themes in Austen and Scott when those themes are perfectly clear in the source books themselves?

It's clear to me that the 19th century presents familiar terrain to the modern reader- this makes it a less interesting exploration for me, but truth be told I can't wait to dig into Ivanhoe next month.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Rob Roy 9 April 2014
By Steven Davis - Published on
Format: Paperback
Rob Roy is an historical novel set in 1715, a year when many Scots and some English rose up against England's Hanoverian king, George I, in an attempt to restore the Stuart monarchy. The narrator of the story, Frank Osbaldistone, is a young man unwittingly caught up in these events. The only son of a London merchant, Frank announces to his father's intense dismay that he would rather be a poet than a businessman. Frank is exiled to the home of his estranged uncle in the far north of England near the Scottish border. There he is to recruit one of his cousins to replace Frank as his father's assistant and heir.

In contrast to his stern, sober, Puritan father, Frank's uncle and family are fun-loving, hard drinking Catholics. They are also Jacobites--supporters of the Stuart Pretender, even though they are English. Frank finds rapport with only one member of the household, a more distant cousin named Diana Vernon. She is serious and studious and appreciates Frank's poetical talents. He falls in love with her, but she warns him off, saying she is obligated by her late father's will to either marry one of his Catholic cousins or enter a convent. One of those cousins, Rashleigh Osbaldistone, ugly, twisted and sinister, becomes both Frank's surrogate in the family business and his jealous rival for Diana's attention.

Through Rashleigh's machinations, Frank is accused of a crime and his father is robbed of his fortune. Frank is drawn into Scotland to restore both his name and his father's credit. There he meets Rob Roy MacGregor, an historical figure known as the Scottish Robin Hood, a remarkable man who is at the center of the intrigues that will soon break out into open warfare, though the motives and allegiances of Rob Roy himself are often ambiguous and mutable.

Aside from being an entertaining novel, what Rob Roy perhaps does best is to portray the complex pattern of loyalties and rivalries of the time. It wasn't just a case of Jacobite versus Hanoverian, but Catholic versus Protestant, Tory versus Whig, those favoring the Act of Union and those wanting to restore Scotland's independence, Scots Highlanders versus Lowlanders, and Highland clan against clan. Every possible combination of allegiances was possible, leading to a very fluid and unstable political situation. Many Scotsmen favored union with England and its Protestant monarch, especially the Presbyterian citizens of Glasgow who were thriving from new access to American markets. Walter Scott vividly contrasts the bustling prosperity of Glasgow with the severe poverty of the Highlands. But he also gives us a very sympathetic portrait of Highland culture, proud and independent, which was threatened by the imposition of English law, English taxes, and the English language. He also lovingly depicts the Scottish landscape, especially that of Loch Lomond, Rob Roy MacGregor's home and refuge.

The novel stays on the periphery of the major historical events, focusing on the fictional character of its narrator, Frank Osbaldistone, more than Rob Roy MacGregor himself. Of the latter we are given more of a personality study than a biographical treatment. There is plenty of humor and suspense, and even some Gothic elements. The most challenging thing about the novel is the extensive dialogue in Scots dialect, which the author has rendered differently in order to reflect the character's origins, education, and even his mood at the time. MacGregor's dialect changes, for example, depending on whom his is talking to, what he is talking about, and how much he has had to drink. But it's all comprehensible with a bit of work and practice.

This is a very good novel, a little slow in spots but filled with historical and cultural insight and some memorable scenes. It should appeal to anyone who likes historical fiction or is interested in Scotland and its history.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Frank Osbaldistone out-performs a heroic reiver and blackmailer 18 April 2013
By Greg Deane - Published on
Format: Paperback
Walter Scott's "Rob Roy" provides a panorama of Scottish Highland and Lowland society and character and the attitudes the regions had to each other in the 18th and 19th century taking place just before the 1715 Jacobite Rising, Scotland being on the verge of civil war and upheaval. Frank Osbaldistone, the narrator, quarrels with his father and is sent to stay with an uncle, Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone, in Northumberland.
The author explores the Highlands under a patriarchal system of government, where the chieftain is the local lawmaker. Bailie Nicol Jarvie may have struck Scott's audience as a sympathetic anachronism, representing a people pressured to join a modern commercial and industrial society, as lands were lost to traditional farmers, and the populace became emigrants or the men found employment as mercenaries or in British army regiments.

Despite social insights, the novel is a love story, where the heroine, Diana Vernon both passionate and restrained. Scott writes of her, in the voice of her lover, Francis Osbaldistone: "She extended her hand, but I clasped her to my bosom. She sighed as she extricated herself from the embrace which she permitted, escaped to the door which led to her own apartment, and I saw her no more," for several months.

Diana Vernon combines gaiety, bravery, wit, tenderness and truthfulness, to be worthy of any heroic protagonist, of the eponymous Rob Roy, rather than the wispier poet and narrator, Frank Osbaldistone-perhaps Scott is embedding himself in the story as a writer who can rival a warrior hero as a worthy alternative.

But Frank Osbaldistone has political convictions that reflect a mental strength to rival Rob Roy's prowess in guerrilla warfare. He resists Di Vernon's attempts to convert him to Jacobitism. He corroborates his strength of mind with spirit, as a sportsman, or in dangerous circumstances as when he encounters the bully, Rashleigh, in the college gardens.

Rob Roy, or Robert "Rob Roy" McGregor Campbell, is also very sympathetically drawn. His primary role is to assist Frank. Despite historical evidence, Scott draws Rob Roy as an honest and upright highlander who sometimes speaks a Lowlander's dialect. Through no fault of his own, he has become a blackmailer and reiver. Notorious in the Highlands, he is as much despised and feared as he is admired and kindly regarded. Scott overlooks his duplicitous politics, so that in reality he was not genuinely heroic. Despite being the title character, he has little more presence than many lesser players.: The titular hero of the novel, Yet the minor characters contribute to the life and humour of the story. One such is the craven Morris. Diana Vernon is given the role of providing insights into her family's characters. Still, Rashleigh reveals himself for his characteristic malignant egotism. Andrew Fairservice, is an insinuating ally who jealously guards his domain in his laird's gardens with "something to maw that he would like to see mawn, or something to saw that he would like to see sawn, or something to ripe that he would like to see ripen, and sae he e'en daikered on wi' the family frae year's end to year's end," and life's end. His master "needed some carefu' body to look after him."

A fault with the work is the hurried, clumsy denouement. But Scott elsewhere had his character, Dominie observe, "Really, madam, you must be aware that every volume of a narrative turns less and less interesting as the author draws to a conclusion,-- just like your tea, which, though excellent hyson, is necessarily weaker and more insipid in the last cup."

Rob Roy (Signet Classics)
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Worth trying to read again another day 16 Oct. 2013
By Sarah Frost - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not sure if I should classify this as 'read' or 'to-read.' I only managed the first 5 chapters. I tried to keep reading, but after trying for 6 weeks I couldn't go on. The story sounded really interesting and action packed, but the language was just too difficult to get into. I would really enjoy giving a verison with more modern language a go - as I said, the plot sounded like my kind of story, it was just the language that stopped me from reading it.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
great 5 Dec. 2014
By memphisangel1948 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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