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The Antiquary (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Walter Scott , Nicola Watson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 April 2009 Oxford World's Classics
deals with the problem of how to understand the past in order to enable the future. It displays Scott's matchless skill at painting the social panorama and in creating vivid characters,from the beggar Edie Ochiltree to the Antiquary himself. The text is based on Scott's own final, authorized version, the 'Magnum Opus' edition of 1829.

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The Antiquary (Oxford World's Classics) + Waverley; or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reissue edition (23 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199555710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199555710
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'It was early in a fine summer's day, near the end of the eighteenth century, when a young man, of genteel appearance, having occasion to go towards the north-east of Scotland, provided himself with a ticket in one of those public carriages which travel between Edinburgh and the Queensferry...'

So begins Scott's personal favourite among his novels, in characteristically wry and urbane style, as a mysterious young man calling himself 'Lovel' travels idly but fatefully toward the Scottish seaside town of Fairport. Here he is befriended by the antiquary Jonathan Oldbuck, who has taken refuge from his own personal disappointments in the obsessive study of miscellaneous history. Their slow unravelling of Lovel's true identity will unearth and redeem the secrets and lies which have devastated the guilt-haunted Earl of Glenallan, and will reinstate the tottering fortunes of Sir Arthur Wardour and his daughter Isabella.

First published in 1816 in the aftermath of Waterloo, The Antiquary deals with the problem of how to understand the past so as to enable the future. Set in the tense times of the wars with revolutionary France, it displays Scott's matchless skill at painting the social panorama and in creating vivid characters, from the earthy beggar Edie Ochiltree to the loqacious and shrewdly humorous Antiquary himself.

The text is based on Scott's own final, authorized version, the 'Magnum Opus' edition of 1829.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scott pulls his own leg? 31 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a hugely enjoyable book, and it is strange I had never heard of it until I heard someone on the radio recommend it to someone who had never read Scott before. I had read, and enjoyed, two of his novels before, but I had not a clue what this might be about. It turns out it is set in Scott's own times (the only such one he wrote?) and there is none of the preliminary fictitous manuscripts or "sources" of the story. It is just the author writing the tale. There seems to be a lot of autobiography in the (affectionately but comically portrayed) Antiquary - obsessed with books and collecting (and being easily fooled by frausters) along with ancient ruins (getting things hilariously wrong). To this is added the laird (Scott the longing after an ancient name, the recounting so vividly the horrors of debt). This story must have been the model for all subsequent saga novels, the plot proceeding at a stately pace as all sorts of interesting events - some astoundingly dramatic, some extraorinarliy comic, one or two very poignant indeed, are recounted on the way. I think the Bluecoat begger, as a sort of latter day Minstrel, is a brilliant device, pulling all this together. The end is never really in doubt, though its final resolution is a bit complicated (or you could say too simple). 20th Century democrats might have been put off by Scott's romantic semi-feudalism, so apparent in this post-Napoleonic tale, but he tells it with such ironic self-awareness, such comic observation and such narrative drive that you would need the heart of Tommy Sheridan to .....well, it is just so enjoyable, well structured, well written, full of contemporary and autobiographic detail, that I am totally surprised I had never heard of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Scott's best novel. 18 Feb 2013
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Chracterisation, setting, melodrama, irony and coincidence - all abound in this tale. The charcters of Oldbuck and Edie Ochiltree are wonderfully drawn and the balance between the comic, the melodramatic and the genuinely tragic is beuatifully struck. An excellent edition with helpful notes and glossary.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meandering plot 10 Mar 2014
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I've bought this novel after reading Waverley (Penguin Classics) and while I would recommend the latter to anyone, I cannot say the same of The Antiquary. I love reading and usually I can go through, undaunted, even what others would consider cumbersome tomes. But it's been difficult to reach the end this time.

I think the main drawback is the absence of a plot, or at least a plot which would give drive to the narration. Some of the main characters, like the beggar and the antiquary himself, have little to do or to gain from the various subplots developed in the text, and Lovel, supposedly the novel's hero, is simply absent for more than half the story and incredibly passive when present. The author takes its time deliberately to present the characters, insert lenghty dialogues (often using ancient language forms which are harder to read), and meander through all sorts of small happenings and anecdotes.

These features on the other hand explain some of the strengths of the novel. Characters are extremely well drawn and alive, seemingly portrayed from real life. The novel also gives a sharp and vivid representation of social life in Scotland at the end of the XVIII century. Despite the general lack of action and romance, Scott's talent is evident in some intense and unforgettable scenes, such as the last minute rescue of Sir Arthur and Isabella Wardour from the coming tide, and the funeral of Steenie Mucklebackit.

Being an avid reader of gothic stories, I've bought this book also because it was considered by some as Scott's gothic novel (on Wikipedia, for example).
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 5 Nov 2012
By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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A while ago I resolved to read Scott's major novels because I felt it could no longer do that - after several decades of reading predominantly English literature - I hadn't yet read a single book by what is (or at least once was) one of the most celebrated and popular novelists of the language. True enough, Scott is no longer read as widely as he once was, but surely an author admired by amongst others Jane Austen can not be all that bad? Having first read Waverley; or 'Tis Sixty Years Since (Oxford World's Classics) (and liking it) I started reading 'The Antiquary', and was in for a huge surprise.

Whereas 'Waverley' confirmed all I expected from a Scott-novel (i.e. historical novels set in a more or less remote Scottish past, with lots of action but still rather 'serious' in that they concern themselves with characters caught up in major historical events such as the Jacobite rising of 1745), 'The Antiquary' proved to be completely different.

The story starts with the arrival of a mysterious young man named Lovel in the Scottish seaside town of Fairport. He gets to know several of the local inhabitants: the impoverished Baronet Arthur Wardour and his daughter Isabella, the German quack Dousterswivel, the local beggar Edie Ochiltree, and above all the 'Antiquary' of the novel's title, aka Jonathan Oldenbuck (colloquially Oldbuck) of Monkbarns who immediately takes a liking to Lovel. But to none of them does Lovel reveal why he has come to Fairport, and the mystery deepens as fairly early in the story Lovel disappears altogether. What follows is an absolutely delightful tale of the various adventures preceding the return of Lovel at the end of the story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely hysterical 24 May 2013
By so happy - Published on
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I loved this book! It is by far the best written by Sir Walter Scott. Who would have thought the man had such a subtle sence of humor. I found myself laughing outloud at certain parts. You will have to get used to reading parts that contain Scottish dialect but the book does provide a 'translation' to make the reading go easier. Make sure you get the Oxford Worlds Classics edition because it provides the 'translations' and explanations for certain lifestyles that are no longer practiced. I've read many of this author's works and this is my favorite.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Scott! 11 April 2014
By z - Published on
The Anitquary is a terrific introdcution to the works of Walter Scott. There is a reason why his books were widely read. This one is full of humor and some adventure. I couldn't put it down.
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