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The Wallace (Canongate Classics) Paperback – 24 Jul 2003

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The Wallace (Canongate Classics) + The Bruce (Canongate Classics) + The Makars: An Anthology (Canongate Classics): 12
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Classics; Main edition (24 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841954136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841954134
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 11.9 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 439,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The story of Wallace poured a Scottish prejudice in my veins which will boil along there till the floodgates of life shut in eternal rest." (Robert Burns)

About the Author

Little is known about Harry's life. He was most-likely born into a noble family perhaps from the Lothians and it is thought that he was blind from birth. He is credited with writing the patriotic epic, The Life and Heroic Actions of the Renowned Sir William Wallace, General and Governor of Scotland, around 1460. This work is the main source of information on Wallace's life, and although much quoted and an influence on both Scott and Burns, it has subsequently been shown to have significant inaccuracies. There is also some doubt that this 12-volume work could be constructed solely by the blind and modest Harry, but despite these problems the poem contains a remarkable amount of information about 12th C. Scotland. The text of the poem is contained in a manuscript, now held by the National Library of Scotland, which was written in 1488 by John Ramsay, who also recorded The Bruce by John Barbour (c.1316-95).

Between 1473 and 1492, Blind Harry is recorded as being paid for performances as a minstrel at the court of James IV in Linlithgow. He may also have written several other poetic works.

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By rogerb on 4 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
A nice, modern, scholarly edition of a rare mediaeval text - not a cheap reprint like so many older texts these days. Pity Amazon can't cope with the name "Blind Harry"!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
William the Wallace. 28 Mar 2014
By Alan Mcrea - Published on
Format: Paperback
The other review on here for Blind Harry's epic poem seems a bit unfair. The author of said review seems learned and their thoughts seem well laid out, but it does not make quite a lot of sense to me... while they acknowledge that this poem is probably a work of fiction, they were upset that the poem's editor, Anne McKim, continually cites "nearly every line of the poem as "Harrys invention"" They then go on to say that they feel McKim was there to "only discredit" the poem, while acknowledging in the same sentence that they're "sure there is historical evidence to corroborate and disprove the poem".

Perhaps I am reading that review incorrectly, but I felt this poem needed a better review, with a more friendly and deserving rating. The great poem "The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace", or more commonly known as "The Wallace", is purely a work of passion and embellishment. When defending his screenplay for "Braveheart", screenwriter Randall Wallace said the fantasy version of William Wallace's life, portrayed in this poem, was far greater in its heart than what the real life of William Wallace was like. He said no matter what, William Wallace's life was an astounding and inspiring one, but the heroic King Arthur-esque tale shown in this poem, gave him far more hope and passion. For years I disliked how inaccurate "Braveheart" was, though I always found myself absolutely moved by the film; but when I learnt of this poem and that it had been written as an embellished historical folklore (much like how the Greeks had done with heroes like Odysseus and Hercules---I mean, Blind Harry describes William Wallace to be the size of a giant---he genuinely wanted to portray him as someone huge and amazing and heroic), I immediately understand why the filmmakers decided not to make the movie accurate: they wished to make something as passionate and inspiring as Blind Harry had wished to do with William Wallace's legend, not simply a bloody war movie.

The real William Wallace was a military killing machine who was known for his brutality and "butchery". He had no problem with killing women and children when the Scot's would attack a village or town, and he used the skin of his enemy who fell at the Battle of Sterling and made into a belt for his sword. This may seem monstrous, but then again, War is War.

This edition of the epic poem, written to give people inspiration for the "legend" of the man called the Wallace, is a true translation from its Scottish form and Anne McKim gives an honest and learned correction to inaccuracies and gives insightful opinions to the made-up and Disney-esque versions of how things really went down. If you're interested in Scottish history, William Wallace, or you simply enjoyed the film "Braveheart", you will enjoy this book... a lot. Because much again like the ancient Greek stories, it paints a picture of how things really were, with colours of fiction and fantasy.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gaelic prose,critically biased 9 Oct 2013
By realist - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After reading many volumes on Scottish history during the Wallace and Bruce era , I was always intrigued by the blind Harry poem from which many of these stories derive. Unfortunately my excitement overshadowed my intelligence and education. I admit that I was unable to extract much useful information from the Gaelic poem. I found the annotations in this volume sparse and ineffectual. The 42 pages of interpretive notes at the end were biased. At times it seemed the notes were more a regurgitation of Matthew Mc Diarmids analysis than the authors. In her biased overcritical writing Mckim seems to give credit to any other writers perspective, accept Harrys. She frequently quotes other authors as fact while continually citing nearly every line of the poem as "Harrys invention". Understandably Harrys medieval poem written some 150 years after the actual events would be open to anachronisms and inaccuracies. I'm sure there is historical evidence to corroborate and disprove the poem, but the author was out to only discredit. Written with a condescending tone and clearly from the English historical perspective, the author disrespectfully regards William Wallace as a greatly exaggerated and embellished historical figure. In conclusion I feel that unless you can read and interpret Gaelic or ancient Scotts language spend your time and money elsewhere.
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