Misha Herwin on Walter Scott.
Sorting through my bookshelves in an attempt to find some room for the piles of books on my office floor, I came across a small, hardback copy of “The Bride of Lammermoor.” In all the years, and they are many, that I have owned this book, it has never been read, so it seemed a good choice for the charity shop. On the other hand, it felt wrong to discard a book, I’d never tried, let alone a writer whose works I’d never sampled.
“The Bride of Lammermoor” is very much a Gothic novel, with a ruined castle, Wolf’s Crag, a terrifying storm, a dashing hero and beautiful heroine. Their love is doomed, the marriage between their rival families cursed and everything ends badly.
The novel is over-written, the Scots dialect both annoying and incomprehensible and yet…There are moments of unexpected insight in the depiction of the relationship between Ravenswood…
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‘Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…’
That line has been running through my head all of this morning, and though Scott doubtless had specific thoughts of lust and betrayal at its heart when he first penned Marmion (which is, after all, essentially crime fiction), I’ve always thought it apt for writers in general; and increasingly so as I wade into the murky waters of historical crime fiction.
To my mind, the entire raison d’être of fiction writers is to deceive their audience. Deceive them into believing that which is being laid out before them is ‘true’, at least within itself. Even the fantasy writer must construct a world that is true to itself within its own bubble, because if that writer does not know what is true or possible in that universe, they will never be able to persuade a reader that the people and places they have created just may exist, somewhere out there, in another time and place. Continue reading
Posted in Blogging, Crime fiction, Fiction, folklore, history, Jan Edwards, Penkhull Press, Research, Writing
Tagged crime, Fiction, marmion, research, walter scott, winter downs, Writing, ww2