The Heart of Mid-Lothian (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 25 Aug 1994
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"Scrupulous and comprehensive editing (by Clare Lamont)."--Ian Duncan, Yale University"Excellent texts. Because they include both Scott's introductions and notes and the invaluable notes by Lamont, these texts are preferable to the volumes in the Edinburgh edition of Scott."--Robert Mayer, Oklahoma State University --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Edited with an introduction and notes by Tony Inglis
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A quick view of the reviews here of Scott's other works confirm that he is indeed the Marmite of classic literature (here I will note in a petty manner than I don't understand why Jane Austen being good necessarily means that Scott is bad). The disagreement is nothing new. While Mark Twain accused Scott of the most awful prose and went on to blame him for the American Civil War Scott was praised to the high heavens in his own lifetime by the likes of Goethe, Lermontov, and Pushkin (the latter more or less blatantly rips off The Heart of Midlothian in his masturful 'The Captain's Daughter). What I'm trying to say is try it, see which side of the fence you're on!
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 The sheer quantity of historical references, and the extensive use of Scots dialect, are enough to intimidate the bravest readers.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!
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