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Unacknowledged Intellect: Scott’s Changing Reputation and an Alternative Victorian Critical Mode

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Author(s): Andrea Coldwell

Journal: Authorship
ISSN 2034-4643

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: authorship | Walter Scott | nineteenth-century British literature | critical reception | reviewing

ABSTRACT
Despite a critical tendency, common until recently, to minimize Sir Walter Scott’s impact as an intellectual, two late-Victorian reviewers, Julia Wedgwood and John Stuart Stuart-Glennie, do present Scott as a theorist and a contributor to the intellectual movements of his period. In the arguments made by these two rather minor critics on Scott, readers can recognize a moment when both Scott’s critical fortunes as well as academic and popular critical practices could have taken a different path than they did. What both critics attempt is a balance of the two critical perspectives that were beginning to emerge. Rather than writing for either an audience of compliant lay people or of contentious experts, Wedgwood and Stuart-Glennie ask their readers to balance rational and sympathetic responses, to read with both reason and intuition. In imagining such an audience, these critics imply that literature plays a role in the development of citizens who can, likewise, combine these responses, as they have practiced them in literature, and apply them to the problems faced by responsible citizens.
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