Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reading Scott

I've just started reading Walter Scott's 'Waverley', it's always a slightly nerve racking experience starting a Scott novel because although I like him he also requires a bit of effort and patience. Self discipline is not my defining quality so it's as well that I've undertaken to read this for Shiny New Books, it's just the spur I need, and then within the first few pages Scott gave me something to think about.

First of all young Edward Waverley, a bright and able young man, is being poorly educated - free "...to read only for the gratification of his own amusement, he foresaw not that he was looking sing for ever the opportunity of acquiring habits of firm and incumbent application, of gaining the art of controlling, directing, and concentrating the powers of his own mind for earnest investigation, -an art far more essential than even that learning which is the primary object of study."

And then "...with the same powers of mind, the poor student is limited to a narrow circle for indulging his passion for books, and must necessarily make himself master of the few he possesses ere he can acquire more." The poor student in this case a better student than the richer Edward as lack of choice focuses the mind.

First of all Waverley promises to be more exciting than those quotes perhaps suggest. secondly as someone who's been behaving precisely as Edward does, flitting from one book to another in an attempt to settle on something amusing or sympathetic to mood, it's a timely reminder to pull myself together and get on with it.

I like reading for pleasure, lazily - who doesn't - but it does no harm to be reminded that making an effort has its rewards too.


  1. Very much so far, Harriet. I have a real fondness for Scott, so much so that he'd get an invite to my fantasy dinner party!