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Masterful edition of an essential novel,
This review is from: The Heart of Midlothian (Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels) (Hardcover)Aside from Ivanhoe (and I have my doubts about even that), Scott is woefully under-read today, probably because reading him is a challenge just as reading Shakespeare is a challenge. As with Shakespeare, the Waverley novels are filled with riches, and I have found that the effort of reading them is repaid many times over.
The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels seems to have received little publicity, but I cannot praise too highly the herculean efforts of the editors. With the historical background, extensive notes, and glossary provided in each volume, Scott comes alive. The editors have outdone themselves with The Heart of Mid-Lothian, in particular. The sheer quantity of historical references, and the extensive use of Scots dialect, are enough to intimidate the bravest readers. I can imagine reading and enjoying this novel without notes and without a glossary, but the supplementary material enables the novel to be truly appreciated as one of the great works in literature. At its core it is a simple story of love and humanity. It moved me to tears, and really that is about the highest praise I can give.
A note on the use of Scots dialect: In the early stages of reading this novel I wasn't entirely sure I would get through it, even with the glossary. I had previously read The Pirate and survived the Scots in that, so I doggedly persevered and soon found my comprehension growing and my reading becoming much faster. Scott could have written this entirely in standard English, but the use of Scots adds a realistic dimension that elevates it and--to use a visual analogy--turns it from 2D into 3D. I would suggest making a short definition list of the most commonly encountered Scots words (e.g, "muckle," "ain," "gar") and using it as a bookmark. Soon you will be speaking (or at least reading) Scots like a native!