1 A THOUSAND PECULIAR AND VARIED FORMS: SPACE AND NARRATIVE IN THE NINETEENTHCENTURY BRITISH HISTORICAL NOVEL By THOMAS GLYNN BRAGG, JR. A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009
2 2009 Thomas Glynn Bragg, Jr.
3 To Sandy
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I give thanks to Pam Gilbert and Bob Thomson for their many hours of help, advice and encouragement; you have both been utterly professional but with a pleasantly personal touch. Warm thanks also to Phil Wegner and Jessica Harland Jacobs, for investing so much time and effort into reading my work and offering me creative and challenging feedback. Id like to thank my parents, Tommy and Robbie, for encouraging my academic growth as a child and my siblings, Kathy and Mike, for respecting my different career p ath. To Connie, Paul and Father John, many kind thanks for your patient and caring help in cultivating my other than intellectual well being. Grateful thanks to Richard and Diana Brantley and to Fiona Barnes, for your unwavering support and for having (an d expressing!) faith in my abilities. Thanks to Bob Steffek, for assuring me I could go back to school if I really wanted to (and for not tolerating excuses). W armest thanks to Sam Kimball, for being a Tom Bragg Fan your final comment on my first English paper was good for many a mental and emotional mile travelled Finally, my deepest gratitude for my wife Sandy, to whom I dedicate this work; I could never have put it together without your help putting myself together. Sincere thanks and respect must al so go to a host of people without whom none of my work would be possible: Alex, Art C., Walt, Bill, Eddie, Jim F., George P., Vic, Clive, Gil, Francis and Thomas.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................................7 CHAPTER 1 HISTORY AND THE LAND OF ROMANCE ....................................................................9 What The Historical Novel Is (And What It Might Be) .........................................................13 The Palimpsests Of Narrative And Space ..............................................................................16 The Rhetoric Of Contrasts And The Shape Of A Genre ........................................................20 2 A CERTAIN KIND OF SPACE: WALTER SCOTT AND THE POETICS OF HISTORICAL NOVEL SPACE .............................................................................................26 A Maximum of Elaboration: Waverley and the Poetics of Space .......................................33 Genre and the Text of Space: Waverley .................................................................................42 Genre and the Text of Space: The Talisman and The Monastery ...........................................51 The Splendid Theatre: Stage Space in the Waverley Novel ...............................................55 Violent Divisions: Scott Country and the Critics ................................................................67 3 (MIS)READING THE PALIMPSEST: READERS OF WAVERLEY SPACE ...................73 Reading Males, Leading Males: Waverley Space and the Hero ............................................79 Reading Ruins: The Historians and Edie Ochiltr ee ................................................................93 The Elementals: Irrational Readers in The Talisman and Kenilworth ..............................104 4 ARCHITECTURAL INCONGRUITIES: HISTORY AND THE SPACE OF CONTRAST IN THE NOVELS OF W. H. AINSWORTH .................................................121 Vivid Contrasts: Ainsworths Popular History .....................................................................127 Basic Strategi es: Structure Organizing Narrative .................................................................132 The Skillful Architect and the Gothic Structure of Romance ...........................................142 In the Midst of All: The Panorama in Ainsworth .............................................................147 The English Victor Hugo: the Reader as Tourist ..............................................................155 Conclusion: Structures Full of Good Things ....................................................................161 5 THE HUMBLER TASK: BULWER LYTTON AND THE SPACE OF ARCHAEOLOGY ................................................................................................................165 Space and Order: Teleology in Bulwers Pompeii ...............................................................170 Historical Space: The Real and the Typical in Last Days and Harold .................................177 Comparison: Emma Marshalls Real Space ..................................................................180 Bulwers Theoretical Space ...........................................................................................181
6 Comparison: Baring Goulds Theoretical Space ...........................................................188 I Can Well Judge From What I Have Seen: Space and Masculine Discernment .............190 Comparison and Legacy: Masculine Space and Readers in Stevenson and Whistler ...197 New Reg ions: Bulwers Dream Lands and the Space of Fantasy .....................................200 6 CONCLUSION .....................................................................................................................210 WORKS CONSULTED ..............................................................................................................218 BIOGRAPHICAL SKE TCH .......................................................................................................226
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy A THOUSAND PECULIAR AND VARIED FORMS: SPACE AND NARRATIVE IN THE NINETEENTHCENTURY BRITISH HISTORICAL NOVEL By T homas G lynn B ragg J r August 2009 Chair: Pamela K. Gilbert Major: English T his dissertation examines the poetics of spatial description in the nineteenth century historical novel, demonstrating connections between its spaces and some characteristic narrative modes and techniques. Beginning with Scott and proceeding t o two Victorian successors, Ainswo rth and Bulwer Lytton, the study identifies techniques common to the genre throughout the centur y, like the malleability of historical novel spaces and their tendency to reflect authorial assumptions about history, narrative, and knowledge. T he dissertatio ns specific narratological focus is to understand better how the spaces in historical novels function to achieve the genres typical (and the authors particular) a ims. Doing so will argue for a reassessment of the form at large: both to rede fine its practices, purposes and types and to urge its inclusion in broader accounts of mainstream fictional narrative. The examination of common genre features necessitates more inclusive definitions and surveys of the historical novel to account for the romantic, rel igious and juvenile variations commonly excluded from studies, but which make up so much of the nineteenth centurys total output. I argue that the nineteenth century historical novel s characteristic form is the ready made palimpsest: a combination of generic material including fiction history pseudohistory, poetry,
8 drama, ballad, and both mock and authentic editorial remarks. The borders between these different, often oppositional categories are often blurred, as in an actual palimpsest. Similarly, the genres characteristic spaces are shifting unstable spaces which transform to suit the authors particular needs. The flexible uncertain nature of historical novel space and the novelists willingness to make use of such space with rhetorical and poetical license are not merely arbitrary features of the genre, but are by product s of the worldbuilding that all historical novelists must achieve to convey a historical setting. In this way, scenery comes to repres ent or organize the different types of knowledge in play in historical novels. In the depiction of scenery the historical novelist can engage matters that do not fall within the purview of the historian or the realistic novelist, such as more romantic, fan ciful or legendary interpretations of nature and metaphysics, object lessons in developing masculine and aristocratic virtues, or confirmation of a providentially guided worldview.
9 CHAPTER 1 HISTORY AND THE LAND OF ROMANCE It was up the course of this last stream that Waverley, like a knight of romance, was conducted by the fair Highland damsel, his silent guide. A small path, which had been ren dered easy in many places for Flora's accommodation, led him through scenery of a very different description from that which he had just quitted. Around the castle, all was cold, bare, and desolate, yet tame even in desolation; but this narrow glen, at so short a distance, seemed to open into the land of romance. The rocks assumed a thousand peculiar and varied forms. --Walter Scott, Waverley This dissertation is a study of the poetic dynamics of spatial description in the British historical novel, focusing particularly on the work of three novelists working at the genres inception in the early nineteenth century: Sir Walter Scott, William Harrison Ainsworth, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Assuming topos to be at least as important as chronos to the chronotope of the historical novel, my investigation is not intended to be an arbitrary evaluation of superficial features relating to setting, but an analysis of the links between spatial description, genre, and narrative. While the popularity of historical fiction t hroughout the nineteenth century is well documented and criticism is wont to speak of the enormous influence of figures like Walter Scott on successive generations of writers, neither idea is particularly well understood, and the narrow limits to which dis cussion of the genre has been confined only make it seem more of a peculiarity a minor subcategory of the novel, instead of the generalist medium for expression and rhetoric that its widespread popularity seems to indicate. By examining various spaces and places as described by these three novelists and others, I hope to reassert the historical novels poetics (as opposed to its more empirical features) and urge its inclusion in larger discussions of mainstream fictional narrative. At the least, the revalu ation of historical novel spaces should move us towards a more accurate and meaningful typology for the genre. The basic critical move this study makes may be thought of as a reorientation across overlapping sets of parameters. First, its specific, particu lar aim is to participate in the
10 reorientation of critical views about the British historical novels essential features by demonstrating how its described spaces relate to history and narrative. Second, it urges the reorientation of critical thinking about the historical novel genre, away from a standard that has been both restrictive and diminishing, and towards a broader, more inclusive, and ultimately, more useful understanding. Third and indirectly, I hope it may contribute to general critical reorient ations of the novel and its tradition. Since the midtwentieth century, the historical novel has commonly been understood as a subset or tributary of the novel of social realism1an understanding that serves to illuminate features of some historical novels, but that fails to address the majority of what may be termed historical fiction: the many popular varieties of the form published widely throughout the nineteenth century (for example, religious, juvenile, and historical romance). My reorientations overlap, then, in advancing an understanding of the form that appreciates its broader characteristics which, I argue, tend to express a more romantic ethos (if not Romantic) than is typically acknowledged.2 1 By social realism I do not intend a twentieth century socialist association but simply socially realistic, a realistic mode of storytelling depicting social interaction, exemplified in the English novel by the great Henry Jamesian line of novel develo pment (Richardson, Fielding, Austen, Eliot, etc.). This meaning appears to be Georg Lukacs intention in The Historical Novel when he sees Scotts historical novel as a continuation of the eighteenth century socially realistic novel (31). Each of these aims proceeds from my postulation that the historical novel works as a generic palimpsest in form, freely incorporating elements from other genres and styles as part of its basic strategy of historical world building. 2 The idea that the historical novel is an antithetical form to romance has caused much confusion and oversimplification in criticism. To avoid more of both, I should make clear that by romantic I usually intend pertaining to the metaphoric, figurative and poetic s tyle of the medieval romance, a narrative genre whose free incorporation of poetic methods like allegory, emotive space, pathetic fallacy and other stylistic methods the historical novel imitated. I have usually used the lowercase r when referencing the term in this study, although I find it hard to ignore the typical nineteenth century historical novelists (especially Scotts) enthusiastic participation in Romanticisms resistance to classical order even if Scotts participation was of a different, mor e conservative sort than Byrons, making their imaginations like two sides of the same coin (Wilson 27). To the extent that Romanticism refuses to recognize restraints in subject matter or form and so is free to represent the abnormal, grotesque, and mo nstrous and to mingle standpoints, genres, modes of expression and even the separate arts in a single work (Perkins 2), the historical novels palimpsest technique as I describe it seems as much Romantic as romantic in spirit and technique.
11 Specifically, I argue for the reconsideration of depicted spaces in the historical novel as a means of understanding both the forms fundamental nature and its place within the broader continuum of the novel. Due to the limited scope of this study, the first of these stated aims must be my primary focus: a demonstration of how the historical novels described spaces relate to elements of narrative, including history and other genre features, characterization, and what I might call the narratives epistemology or the way it figures the acquisition of knowledge. As such this r emains a study in a genre of fiction, one that addresses and responds to typical concerns of historical novel criticism. I do not intend, however, to undertake a survey of the form in English; my sample is too narrow both in length and breadth to function as an adequate survey. Rather, I am describing and reasserting general, mainly figurative and poetic features of the British historical novel that have typically been trivialized, overlooked or disregarded in the dominant critical conversation. Since the genres inception with Scott, I argue, such narrative features one might call them techniques or habits have been present in the form; my task in part is to challenge the idea that they are bad habits, or vestigial holdovers from Gothic ism and Romanticism that do not correspond to the historical novels best or most important functions. I aim to demonstrate some ways these features work within the historical novel and to imply more generally how understanding them changes, and should change, the shape and di mensions of the genre as we conceive and discuss it. A serious drawback to criticisms most common ways of discussing the historical novel i.e., in terms of social realism and political dialectic is that such an understanding diminishes the heightened co mposition, poetic or melodramatic diction, figurative description and epic or romantic stylization that distinguished the form throughout the nineteenth century. The
12 potential for this emphasizing one set of concerns at the expense of the other is pres ent in Scotts work, a virtual birds nest of paradoxical styles and generic elements. With Scotts calm, at times gently satirical, utterly rational narrator controlling and containing the melodrama of his narratives, the critical tendency to trust the au thority of this voice and to read the Waverley Novels as essentially well grounded realistic works is understandable. However, to trust the realistic narrator (with his historical understanding, rational journalistic tone and eye for regional detail) is to mistrust the unrealism of many parts of the narratives themselves, or at any rate to downplay their importance. So we find in the criticism various Romantic or Gothic elements in the Waverley Novels often dismissed as residual components or as super ficial sops to popular taste: not what Scott was truly concerned with, and not at all what is remarkable or new about the historical novel genre. My study seeks to reassert the importance of some of these supposedly residual components in particular, the forms generally metaphoric handling of space towards a broader and more useful set of guidelines for understanding the genre and its relation to the mainstream novel. The components I discuss are not universal; some exceptions can always be provided for any generic criteria, and indeed there was in the historical novel genre much more variation of form and method practiced than is generally acknowledged. But I do argue that these narrative and descriptive methods are norms, and even essential norms for the genre: basic though not indispensable, and demonstrable across a wide range of sample texts. The study is, then, a focus on origins and on models, or prototypes, indic ating basic features and functions which have been undervalued within conventional accounts of the genre. To this extent, while my study does not undertake a genre survey itself, it does recommend new surveys, based on more inclusive standards.
13 What T he H istorical N ovel I s ( A nd What I t M ight B e) Moving towards a more inclusive, and therefore more complete, understanding of the historical novel does not necessitate contradicting or excluding some now classic interpretations in the genre study only recognizi ng that these interpretations often point to very specific kinds of historical novels. Georg Lukacs identification of Scotts wavering hero as a means of weighing oppositions and discovering the middle way between clashing cultures remains persuasive and useful, for example. Neither does there seem any reason to question the prevalent assumption that British historical novels (some, anyway) articulate very real social concerns about industrialization, nationalism, empire and class. My problem with such conventional wisdom about the genre is that, when it comes to defining the genre as a whole and understanding its significance, that wisdom has had restrictive and diminishing consequences. When we define the historical novel and its goals according to Lukacs particular standards as subsequent critics have often done (when his study was never intended to function as a survey),3The historical novel, in all of its many permutations, remained an extraordinarily popular, flexible and adaptable genre throughout the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth (and, in fact, seems to be enjoying a renewed vogue in Engl ish today). During the Victorian era it lent or decide that the genres only relevant discussions are about the social or political realms, not only do we render many of its characteristic features irrelevant, but we also exclude most examples of the genre from serious consideration. Such delimitation has had numerous unfortunate effects upon the critical perception of the genre and, consequently, on our understanding of the novel itself. 3 Neither was his treatise The Historical Novel (1937/62) arguably the most influential twentieth century critique of the genre and the keynote advocate for a realistic standard for historical fiction intended to function even as a description of the genre s development, though it is often pressed into this sort of service.
14 itself to a broad spectrum of causes and concerns: from educating the youth in history and morals, to reinforcing certain religious narratives, to sometimes reassuring and sometimes alarming its multigenerational readership about the state of things to come, based on the things that have been. It is therefore a far more complex animal than the typical discussion of it would indicate, capable of preaching empire but also tolerance, exploring money and class but a lso religion and tradition, examining the local and the recent but also the far flung and the ancient. Readers might counter that these concerns are yet contained within discussions of nationalism and accounted for in conceptualizations of the genre as a social realistic form. But many, perhaps most, nineteenth century historical novels understood these to be supra national and extra regional matters, transcending the immediately knowable and observable details of the novel of social realism. The historic al novel in all its varieties did not understand itself as primarily realistic but epic; conceptually, it aimed higher than its domestic or sentimental counterpart. That Scott himself understood the distinction in this light can be seen in his distinguish ing Jane Austens novels of ordinary commonplace things from his own Big Bow Wow Strain ( Journal 132). Modern critical accounts of the historical novel seem less likely to appreciate the differences not only of tone and setting between the two but als o of intent. If Jane Austen and Walter Scott were attempting anything like the same thing, we might say, then Walter Scotts utter failure is evident. Indeed, whatever success he might lay claim to would be entirely confined to a very few of his novels: the Scottish ones, and only a few of those ( Waverley, The Heart of Mid Lothian, Rob Roy a few others). Most of the historical novel genre at large, in fact, is largely irrelevant to a discussion of the novel as a social realistic form, except for those very few examples that exhibit an understanding of history, culture, and civilization comparable to what we like to find in the great tradition of the social novel. Most historical fiction does not
15 exhibit such understanding; therefore, it tends to be disregar ded, and our sample of what the historical novel is and should be is composed not of the work of historical novelists per se, but of the occasional sideline projects of social novelists: Dickens two historical novels, Eliots one, Thackerays Esmond, and so on. Novelists who worked almost solely within the genre, like W. H. Ainsworth or G. P. R. James, are dismissed en masse as cheapeners of some higher ideal form. What many Victorian critics thought the best example of the genre, Reades The Cloister and the Hearth is given slight treatment or ignored. So, the genre as cited by most criticism tends to emphasize only very particular aspects of its reach, in effect severely reducing its relevance and representation in conversations about the novel. Separati ng the wheat from the chaff, or the serious historical novel from the supposedly frivolous romance varieties, has resulted in a skewed and nonrepresentative canon of works, causing many implications of the genres wider compass to be overlooked. These cri tiques have a rgu ed for a very particular what sh ouldbe and disregarded what is, in the main. Harry E. Shaw notes that the division and classification has largely been about historical vision, in The Forms of Historical Fiction (1983): It is tempting to sa y that works which embody a historical vision we find uninteresting or unacceptable, or that seem to have no historical vision at all, are not really historical novels. But it is more useful to discriminate between great and mediocre historical novels th an to exclude imperfect works from the group a procedure that logically tends to produce a group containing one and only one true member. (28) Shaw urges tolerance, flexibility, and diversity in our assessments of what the historical novel is and what it s hould be. The briefest way to summarize my incentive towards reorientation is that I hope to encourage a theoretical model of the historical novel that allows for miscellany, embraces a diversity of historical visions, and understands the different uses to which history may be put in the novel form.
16 The Palimpsests O f Narrative A nd Space Fortunately, a paradigm tolerating miscellany and diversity of representation, and capable of explaining the historical novels apparent rhetoric of stark contrasts (Mor etti 177), has been hiding in plain sight: that of the palimpsest, an idea often evoked by critics to explain the layered nature of Walter Scotts scenery. Im extending the model of the palimpsest to explain the typical narrative techniques of the histor ical novel because it so well conveys many characteristic features of the genre that are not immediately evident if we adhere to conventional, restrictive definitions or to acknowledge only one true type of historical novel. In its typical sense of a doc ument partly erased to allow for new writing, the palimpsest has been used as a model for writing generally by poststructuralist criticism (Kristeva, Barthes and Derrida all make particular use of the idea), since it emphasizes that writing always takes pl ace within the presence of other writing. This effect is deliberately courted by the historical novels narrative mode, which, in one way, is perhaps the clearest example of new writing (the fictional narrative) taking place in the presence of old writing (the historical narrative). The palimpsest model works for historical fiction because of the way the genre gathers together other genres to create its blended historical fictional world. In the majority of novels that might be considered historical, the connections between the obviously fictional narrative and its historical framework are more vague and intuitive than explicit, the old and new narratives blurring together at the boundaries; this is true both for canonical novels like Waverley and for more unfamiliar outliers, like religious or juvenile historical fiction. The give between the novelists and the historians built worlds allows for much instability, blurring, and shifting from real to unreal, recorded to inventedcreating a felt, impressionistic series of connections between them. The most successful historical novelists, both aesthetically and commercially, found ways to exploit this unstable ground.
17 To create these impressionistic links between fiction and history, British historical novelists of all varieties conve y the past by gathering together scraps: of poetry, plays, and ballads, of legends and folk tales, of contemporary memoirs and modern histories. It is this quality of gathering and combining genres, this enfolding and overlapping of written categories that made the historical novel all purpose to nineteenth century readers, and infinitely adaptable to all European markets (Moretti 159, 181). By its very name the historical novel implies a blending or amalgamation of two presumably unlike types of writing, with successful examples of the form often understood as striking an artful balance between seeming oppositions; witness the frequent use of weaving or intertwining metaphors to praise historical novels, where the warp and woof of history and fiction ar e seamlessly joined, or the idea that the novelist has somehow breathed life into the dead past.4Since the historical novel is often seemingly composed of fragments, erasures, and superimpositions a text where various meanings, superficial, residual, or otherwise overlap and blend together to gather meanings from the narratives palimpsest is in some measure to The attribution of magical or godlike powers to the historical novelist Scotts familiar epithet, the Wizard of the North, comes to mind emphasizes the myst eriousness of his or her achievement, pointing out the seeming impossibility of binding together what cannot be combined. Even less complimentary analogies early in the century nevertheless implied an uneven mixture of categories, as when an unsigned reviewer of Ivanhoe called it that mongrel sort of production, an historical novel (unsigned, qtd in Hayden 193). 4 As an example of the former, Ainsworth was praised by Macaulay for his close adherence to established facts, woven together in such attractive form (qtd in Ellis 1:432). Georg Luka cs furnishes us with an example of the latter trope: Here is where the historical novel, as a powerful artistic weapon in defence of human progress, has a major task to perform, to restore these real driving forces of human history as they were in reality to recall them to life on behalf of the present (317, my emphasis). The idea of the historical novelist breathing life into or resurrecting the dead past remains a common metaphor, applied to historical novels and novelists today.
18 decode it. All of its explicit meanings cannot be gathered, of course. At best, the reader may receive only some faint outline, some impression of past messages and meanings. Such a document well describes the deliberately fragmented, teasingly digressive narrative technique of the nineteenth century historical novel. In these works, the novelist composes both the foregrounded narrati ve and the partially obscured, fragmented scraps around the edges, resulting in a ready made or faux palimpsest. Their successful evocation of the past results, then, from illusion and sleight of hand, from dazzling the reader with a wide variety of incomplete, contrasting, yet somehow complementary styles of expression. Tellingly however, palimpsest has also been employed to describe a place whose history is still written in its spaces, a landscape with visible but indistinct links to the past, or an architectural structure where the shadows of former uses and concerns are still to be seen. It is no coincidence that the nineteenth century historical novel explores such spaces with all of its antiquarian zest and zeal. Nor should it surprise that, given th e deliberate palimpsest it makes of its narrative, the historical novel creates and manipulates its spaces to its own ends. As I stated above, thinking of some historical novel scenes as palimpsests is an old idea, as Judith Wilt points out in Secret Leaves : the most insisted on trait of [Scotts] landscapes is that they are all palimpsests, ruin within ruin, structure upon structure, inscription under inscription (158). An important idea related to this familiar trait has not been significantly explored, however: that the layered and blurred character of the palimpsest applies to Scotts hodge podge, digressive narrative structure extraordinarily well, suggesting that mirroring is taking place between narrative and space. Spaces relate to narratives in a number of ways but principally, I will argue, they are analogues to the overlapping of real and imagined categories of information. As such they image the novels interrogation of different modes and genres. Given Scotts
19 influence throughout the ninetee nth century among historical novelists, its reasonable to assume that this kind of space certainly defined and modeled this kind of space narrative interaction for subsequent historical novelists. For instance, W. H. Ainsworths novels move the dynamic be tween space and narrative away from Scotts habitual rural scenes and into cityscapes and architectural structures, while retaining their fluidity and flexibility. Edward Bulwer Lyttons novels may work from painfully reconstructed archaeological sites or wholly invented theoretical spaces, but he always layers his important spaces, sometimes peeling them away for the readers edification. As Franco Moretti intones, recalling Barthes, Without a certain kind of space, a certain kind of story is simply impossible (100); the palimpsest in one variation or other is the historical novels certain kind of space. Characterizing this space and its relationship to the genres certain kind of story is the main objective of this study. With the palimpsest mode in mind as a distinguishing characteristic of the genre, we can better assess both what the historical novel is attempting and how it relates to the received tradition of the nineteenth century novel. Though not at work in every historical novel, the paradigm works to some degree across many types and generations and is certainly a more broadly applicable characteristic of the genre than, say, the understanding of history as a shaping force on the individual. As I stated above, my study looks at some basic t hough not indispensable traits of the genre; the palimpsest technique in narrative and space is one such trait. It allows the historical novel to employ a rhetoric of contrasts, to be historical and melodramatic at the same time, to contain variety (div ersity, variety, and contrast are frequently in the mouths of contemporary reviewers of these novels, and usually intended as praise). Further and more importantly, the palimpsest mode allows the historical novel to evoke a felt past, to connect its fictional narratives with their historical frames by building a patchwork
20 of resonant generic fragments: it creates an illusion with allusion. As such it represents a deliberate technique of historical worldbuilding through literary means, regardless of how poorly some individual novelists may have executed it. As a widespread technique affecting both narrative and spatial structures, the palimpsest model is one way to unify the broader spectrum of historical fiction varieties into a single, essential gen re. The Rhetoric O f Contrasts A nd T he Shape O f A Genre Moving towards a broader understanding of the form that allows for a multiplicity of writing styles and elements a palimpsest fortunately does not mean reinventing it so much as returning to an older, more romantic ideal, one quite familiar to its nineteenth century audience: romantic, in that the form embraced sublime and intuitive in addition to empirical modes of knowing; broke with novel conventions as willingly as it revisited older folk forms and genre conventions; and generally behaved itself in a greater than realistic manner. In short, the historical novel in the Victorian era meant Scotts Big Bow Wow Strain, a type of fiction that could be novel, romance, history, melodrama, and even a s ort of learned or Scriblerian farce all at once. In his study of European narrative markets at mid century (in The Atlas of the European Novel 18001900 ), Franco Moretti understands the historical novel to be a generalist genre of the novel, successful across Europe (181); he lists Scott, Bulwer Lytton, Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo among the eras great successes and finds that European nations imported tons of Dumas, Hugos, [and] Bulwer Lyttons melodramas, becoming saturated with th e prolific historical romancers W. H. Ainsworth and G. P. R. James (177). This popular clamor was not for the social realist historical novel we tend to isolate in criticism, but for a genre of wild variety and contrast, of melodrama and romanticism, an a llpurpose genre that suited many tastes and subjects. Moretti writes:
21 It is a regular, even monotonous pattern: all of Europe reading the same books, with the same enthusiasm, and roughly in the same years (when not months). All of Europe unified by a de sire, not for realism (the mediocre fortune of Stendhal and Balzac leaves no doubts on this point) not for realism, but for what Peter Brooks has called the melodramatic imagination: a rhetoric of stark contrasts that is present a bit everywhere. (176177) To judge from Morettis findings, the form best equipped to organize and contain these contrasts is the historical novel in all its splendid diversity, and their enthusiastic patronage reveals that the Victorians always recognized this capacity. It wo uld seem understanding the genre and its place within nineteenth century literary output generally means understanding the alchemy of its rhetoric of contrastsnot a reduction of the genre to a few serious successes among a surfeit of silly failures, but an assessment that comprehends how the historical novel can be both historical and melodramatic (and many other qualities) at the same time. Such an assessment unifies rather excludes. It seeks connections rather than disqualifications: between the many variations of historical novel, and between the genre and the mainstream novel. Definitions for the genre have been notoriously tricky in the past, perhaps because they tend to collide with our own intuitive sense of the form. As Avrom Fleishman puts it, Everyone knows what a historical novel is; perhaps that is why few have volunteered to define it in print (3). Rather than relying on negative or exclusive definitions, perhaps we need fuzzier, looser ones especially when it comes to describing a genre whose boundaries seem themselves so flexible and permeable. Including any variety of historical fiction exponentially increases the size of the genre, of course, but also its shape and common characteristics, allowing for a much broader range of purposes, modalities, and subject matter. We would immediately find that the genres apparent socio political bias due to a canon favoring novels of region or revolution almost exclusively would be counterbalanced by pastoral, biographical, and metaphysical visions of history: novels treating provincial manners, famous artists and poets, and religious
22 conversion.5Adopting a more intuitive, loose and baggy understanding of historical fiction is not to reinvent the genre, but to return to an older paradigm. In A Guide to the Choice of Books for Students and General Readers (1891), Oxford fellow A. H. D. Acl and describes the mission and characteristics of historical fiction to a Victorian readership: Childrens books and adventure stories with carefully realized period settings would be includedlike Treasure Island (1883), and Marryats The Children of the New Forest (1847). These are novels which feel historical anyway, but are typically excluded from consideration because of their juvenile audience or because, like Treasure Island, they neither include historical characters nor treat historical even ts. The greatest addition to the body of work under consideration, the weightiest tip of the scales, would undoubtedly be due to those novels typically styled historical romance, whose exclusion from definitions and surveys has made possible the reductive generalizations Ive briefly characterized. Since most so called historical romances habitually meet the more obvious qualifications of historical novels, they have typically been excluded from examination not according to aesthetic, but to ideological sta ndards. The amount of actual history contained in a historical tale may range from a slight sketch of some notable character, or a narrative of obscure local incidents, to a careful study of events of worldwide importance; some are concerned with the facts of social or domestic life; others with the fate of kingdoms or nations. Their truthfulness to the facts dealt with must also be expected to vary indefinitely with the purpose and ability of the writer, and the exigencies of his tale. The one advantage common, in a greater or lesser degree, to all worthy books of the kind, is that of helping us to realise vividly the characters surroundings, and events of other times t han our own. (68) 5 W. H. Ainsworth s The Flitch of Bacon (1854) is a good example of a popular historical novel about provincial English manners and customs. Emma Marshall produced a variety of fictionalized historical biographies treating non political figures like the composers Handel an d Henry Purcell, poet and priest George Herbert and painter George Romney. Religious novels with devotional rather than political themes account for a large portion of the Victorian historical novel population; many were published by the Society for the Pr omotion of Christian Knowledge, an Anglican mission organization.
23 Aclands paradigm allows history to be worldwide but also slight or obscure in the historical novel. It acknowledges domestic life as well as kingdoms and nations. Historical accuracy and historical vision are expected to vary; the one advantage common is a vivid realization of the past as past, of the difference between the historical novels world and the readers. As we might expect from such an inclusive set of guidelines, the list of recommended texts includes Waverley but also Ivanhoe Thackerays Esmond but also Ainsworths The Tower of London, Eliots Romola but also Charlotte Yonges The Dove in the Eagles Nest in other words, it mixes the canonical with the marginalized, the serious with the melodramatic. It covers a variety of styles and subjects, with history playing a number of distinctly different roles (Shaw 22). By characterizing the palimpsest of space and narrative at work in novels by Sir Walter Scott, William Harrison Ainsworth, and Edward Bulwer Lytton, this dissertation demonstrates that these novelists engagements with space exemplify practices common to t he genre throughout the nineteenth century, as well as revealing their respective attitudes about history, narrative, knowledge, and the retrievable past. I begin with Sir Walter Scott: as the only canonical author of the three, the popularizer and nominal founder of the historical novel, as well as a novelist commonly associated with wild landscape representation, his presence is demanded. The Waverley Novels set down the pattern for the palimpsests of space and narrative; accordingly, my first two chapters will examine this pattern and some of its implications in Scott. Chapter Two will establish specific characteristics of Waverley spaceincluding its te ndency to be more of a technical space of ideas than a realistically reported space, and its common function of setting generic information and styles into opposition. The second chapter closes with a brief look at how criticism has treated Scotts
24 spatial description. Since Chapter Two sets up Waverley space as a sort of text, Chapter Three will postulate the reader for that text, concentrating on both the young men, whose interpretations of space are typically tests of masculinity and character, as well as the eccentric Elementals, who seem at once readers and parts of the spatial palimpsest. William Harrison Ainsworth and Edward Bulwer Lytton, each of whom are represented in a chapter of this study, are another matter, since neither is widely read toda y and their historical novels are usually (over simply) characterized as being poor imitations of Scott. Both novelists were tremendously popular during the era following Scotts death, however, and may be considered (along with G. P. R. James) the first t o take up the baton of historical novel writing; as such their work furnishes excellent examples of typical genre features at its inception. Their continued popularity into the midVictorian era was accompanied by changes and adaptations in their methods, especially Bulwers, enabling us to see how some narrative and descriptive techniques remain in use as the genre begins to define itself. More importantly to my purposes, both novelists represent extreme reactions to Scotts model, Ainsworth emphasizing t he more romantic and sensational aspects of the genre, Bulwer the more scholarly, historiographic approach. If Bulwer sets out to amend Scotts model by a greater faithfulness to historical detail, Ainsworth seems just as determined to emphasize those Scot t elements that transcend the historical domain. In other words, one looks to the historical, the other to the Gothic and romantic, for their respective variations on the Waverley theme. They are useful subjects for this study because, despite their differ ent approaches to history and narrative, Ainsworth and Bulwer freely manipulate space in their descriptions, whether fictional or historical, turning physical settings to their individual purposes. Each creates a spatial
25 palimpsest that, while adhering to no particular temporal or geographical norms, mirrors the fragmentary, multigenre nature of historical novel narrative.
26 CHAPTER 2 A CERTAIN KIND OF SPACE: WALTER SCOTT AND THE POETICS OF HISTORICAL NOVEL SPACE This study will identify and d escribe some characteristics for the genre space of the British historical novel. As I stated in Chapter One, my paradigm for organizing the genres impossible space at work is the palimpsest, a textual model that I think ideally captures both the narrat ive and the spatial characteristics of the historical novel at large. In these first two chapters, Ill look at the palimpsest space particularly as manifested in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Scotts Waverley Novels not only provide the prototype spaces for the genre, but also some of its most strikingly contradictory and fragmented examples of narratives. By examining a series of scenes from a wide variety of Waverley Novels Ill demonstrate the workings of the palimpsest spaces which became the patter n for the genre as it developed throughout the Victorian era. Looking for the palimpsest of space and understanding it as a mirror to narrative aligns my study with one of the predominant ideas of spatial theorists. Although an increasing amount of critical space is devoted to studies of space and fictional narrative, what we might consider the tenets of the study have yet to be finalized but the identification of place with genre, of physical locale with fictional styles and modes, a concept at least as old Walter Bagehots hedgerows of representation, looks to be as likely a doctrine as anything else. Franco Morettis formulation of this idea in his Atlas of the European Novel 18001900 smacks of an axiom when he writes that each space determines its own kind of actions, its plot its genre (84). Morettis formulation arises from his discussion of the European novels exploration of city spaces, how its different landscapes yield and indeed demand different narrative matrixes: Londons Regent Street for instance, serves as the border between silver fork London and the confusing labyrinth of the East End crime stories, while the Latin Quarter of Balzacs Paris similarly marks a division between different categories of La Comedie Humaine Without a
27 c ertain kind of space, Moretti sums up at one point, a certain kind of story is simply impossible (100). This point accords with the main thrust of the Atla s argument and with other narratological assessments of space (like Bakhtins). Moretti continue s, Each genre possesses its own space, thenand each space its own genre : defined by a spatial distribution by a map which is unique to it (35, original emphasis). Moretti accordingly allocates to Jane Austens social comedies the center of England, eve rything within a circle centering on London, to colonial adventure novels a penetrating line from the coast of Africa to an isolated site in the interior, and so on (33, 58). Bearing this basic argument about space and genre in mind, what should we make of Morettis observation that the mapped spaces of the British historical novel appear to be every spot away from the center of England, that the world of Scotts Waverley stops exactly where Austens world begins (33, original emphasis)? Historical novel space is geographically, according to Moretti a space of uncertainty and unfamiliarity, a space away from the heart, a space that is decentered and peripheral. Although history is life that has been lived and recorded and is therefore safe from kairos its certain kind of space is nevertheless unstable and (literally) edgy. Moretti makes it clear that this allocation of the British historical novel to Englands expanding periphery is more an intuitive perception than literally true: the genre frequently crawls all over the center of England with some practitioners painstakingly exploring its very center, London (like Harrison Ainsworth in his best known novels). For his map, Moretti has in mind a particular kind of historical novel: the Sco ttish Waverley Novel and its European imitators. He plots Scotts Waverley along with novels by Balzac, Mor Jokai, Pushkin, Gogol,
28 Manzoni and others, and concludes from the locations that the significant and characteristic spaces of the historical novel are essentially unhistorical spaces: in the proximity of major natural barriers like forests, dangerous or remote coastlines, wide territorial expanses and especially mountains (34). This siting of the genre puts its characteristic actions within the proximity of borders a great thing to do when borders are simultaneously hardening, and being challenged as unnatural by the various nationalist waves. The explanation dovetails nicely with the dominant view of the historical novel as a genre about the making of nations and the rise of nationalism; external borders between countries provide sites for international adventure, invasion, and empire building, while internal borders within countries provide more anthropological sites, showing how wea k national identity still is in the nineteenth century (35 37, original emphasis). For my purposes, what is most interesting about Morettis siting is that he maps the genre on historically uncertain geographic space qualitatively the same space as Goth ic fiction, in fact, a form which Moretti maps outside of the British Isles, on the Continent. From a British perspective, however, the spaces for Gothic would be exactly those foreign, peripheral and unfamiliar spaces outside of Austens center of England: spaces which begin where her closely and carefully observed world ends. For example, Moretti plots historical novels in such spaces as the Irish coast (Banim, The Boyne Water ), Transylvania (Jokai, The Golden Age of Transylvania), and Northern Italy (Manzoni, I Promessi Sposi ) all significant locations for landmark Gothic novels ( Frankenstein Dracula, The Mysteries of Udolpho). If particular genres inhabit particular spaces (as Moretti argues, following Bakhtin, Paul Zumthor and other theorists of fictio nal worlds), what are we to make of the apparent overlapping of historical and Gothic novel geography? We might draw an obvious cultural conclusion about the perceived other:
29 namely, that to the British novel reader, foreign equaled Gothic as areas beyond the periphery of empire equaled barbarian to the Ancient Romans. Yet if geography and genre are so palpably connected, the sharing of mapped space between a novel form valued for authenticity and realistic commitment and a novel form associated with vagu eness of time and place, a lack of specific historical detail, and the free use of various motifs from romances and supernatural tales --seems to dictate some correlative sharing of their ideological space as well. For that matter, the spaces Moretti names mountains, forests, wide expanses and natural barriers are the spaces of the modern fantasy novel as well: the same spaces Tolkiens Bilbo Baggins must navigate, crawling painfully yet adventurously across that staple of fantasy fiction from Rider Haggard to Robert Howard, the map of a fictional land. The overlap between historical and marvelous spaces must have narratological significance, then, suggesting that modes, motifs and methods of characterization are also necessarily shared, that Gothic roma ntic, and other unrealistic elements are to be expected within the forms narrative matrix, and do not constitute (as criticism has sometimes suggested) a fault or a diminishment of some ideally realistic pure form. Since its inception in the early ninete enth century, the British historical novel has shown a preoccupation with the depiction of scenic spaces, whether rugged and wild landscape scenes or picturesquely cluttered panoramas of a famous citys olden days. Sometimes the mode of such moments has be en primarily descriptive, the mood spectatorial, with onlookers viewing an awe inspiring prospect from the summit of a hill. At other times, characters interact with their environment more directly. Space may serve the interest of the plot, as landscapes e nclose, impede and threaten the progress of the hero; indeed, the measure of a hero is often taken by his or her ability to navigate a hostile or bewildering landscape. Historical novels are sometimes
30 written to fill a particular landscape or built envir onment, as Bulwer Lytton did in The Last Days of Pompeii (1834). Other times, their narratives may inhabit wholly fictional locations the brooding, primordial landscape of Treasure Island (1889) comes to mind. That the historical novels penchant for depi cting outdoor spaces and places need not have been the case becomes evident when we consider probable alternatives, routes it might have opted for instead. Following the historical drama, the form might well have focused entirely on interior spaces: the implied castle chambers, dungeons, chapels and audience chambers of Shakespeares chronicle plays. Hen ry V s Prologue might long for a muse of fire to bring forth the vasty fields of France, but the predominant spaces of Elizabethan and Jacobean histori cal plays are nevertheless interiors: places where policy is made, intrigues unfold, and state secrets are disclosed. At the very least, the form might have fixated on urban space as being (presumably) the most tellingly historicized space, where a citys historical changes may be read in what Hugo called the great book of humanity, its buildings, monuments, and architectural modes. In short, if the historical novel is or should be primarily interested in fact in authenticity to the record, to regional or period detail, or to some understanding of historical process then the form has little need to depict the untouched spaces without history that Moretti identifies: craggy wilderness or misty mountains, environments that have not been acted upon by human history. Likewise, we might assume that when depicting actual, verifiable places and spaces, the historical novel would record them with scrupulous accuracy and detail, since any consultation of a map, gazetteer or the historical site itself (all beco ming increasingly more accessible in the Victorian Era) would disprove its account. And yet throughout the nineteenth century, British historical novels of every type and degree of quality routinely navigate ahistorical spaces, celebrating them with seemin g romantic abandon, freely transforming, manipulating, and
31 conflating the spaces and places of history. Along with period costumes and appearances by historical persons, sweeping scenic panoramas have become one of the forms stock devices, so common as to be rarely questioned. But the significance of these spaces to narrative and genre, both their inclusion and the styles and methods that go into describing them, has been routinely overlooked in the criticism. More colorful rural descriptions are often undervalued as concessions to the picturesque mode of description in vogue during Scotts heyday, while more prosaic spaces are read as realistic spaces, full of carefully selected, empirically significant objects, each with a socially realistic tale to tell. The Scottish Waverley Novel Moretti is apparently thinking of practically the only Scott novels that might be described as canonical, such as Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian, Rob Roy and Old Mortality and routinely considered Scotts best workhas oft en been celebrated for the alleged authenticity of its spaces. Whatever fictional gloss may be applied, claims James Reed, when he is writing of Scotland, and especially of his own Border region, Scott is recording, not inventing (6) as if invention is somehow uncharacteristic or relatively unimportant in Scotts best work. True that the Scottish Waverley Novels provided perhaps the original impetus for purely literary pilgrimages, sending travelers combing the Scottish countryside to see the actual sites that, thinly veiled behind clever names, make up the picturesque backdrops for their heroic stories. The identification of Scott with actual locations is carefully preserved in a plethora of nineteenth and early twentieth century travelogues (for ins tance, James Hunnewells Lands of Scott  and W. S. Crocketts Scott Country ). But there seems an evident contradiction between the seemingly authentic spaces celebrated in these more realistic, more historical Waverley Novels and the character istic genre space Moretti assigns to them: shifting,
32 unstable, and indistinct limbo regions like mountains, whose history consists in not having one, and [which] remain at the margins of the great currents of civilization (Braudel, qtd in Moretti 34). On the other hand, many of Scotts novels of chivalry, always held to be less authentic, less realistic, less historical than the Scottish like Ivanhoe Woodstock or especially The Fortunes of Nigel are set squarely and exclusively within Morettis center of England, their geography relatively well mapped. Either Morettis map is incorrect and the historical novels characteristic space is not unhistorical, unnatural, or border space, or the spaces of the Scottish Waverley Novel are not so authentic as has sometimes been argued. To judge from the historical novel genre as an inclusive totality (rather than from one particular type), the latter seems to be the case, which suggests that space in the genre does not so much operate realistically as marvelou sly, remaining purposefully unstable and transmutable, to be manipulated by the novelist at willwhether geographically marginal or not. What we should conclude from Morettis map of the historical novel from the genres counter intuitive claiming of mar ginal, nether spaces, from its shared space with Gothic and presumably with other marvelous or romantic forms like adventure and fantasy as well is that its characteristic space is complex, layered, and contradictory. The authentic, hard and fast histor icized space, the space that can be reliably mapped out and verified, is the space of the tour book, not the historical novel. Unstable space, space that can shift physically, categorically, and generically, is the space required by the historical novel. M ore often a dramatic, theatrical space than a realistically detailed social space, historical novel space as originally set forth in Scotts novels and continually developed by those who followed is by turns self conscious, moody or threatening, rhetorical temporally unstable: palimpsestic If each genre possesses its own space, then the palimpsest of genre that is the historical novel requires this palimpsestic space. Without
33 a certain kind of space, a certain kind of story is simply impossible (Moretti 100). But if the certain kind of story told is itself impossible and a contradiction in terms, as Allesandro Manzoni declared the historical novel to be, then an impossible contradictory space is required (qtd in Fleishman 17). The historical novels certain kind of story is a categorial hybrid, a patchwork, a wholeness of fragments, a mongrel sort of production (Hayden 193). Like the borders it discusses, like the nations it helps to define, it is a synthesis of contradictory layers and meanings and so is its certain kind of space. Because Scott so consistently located his novels, both the Scottish and the Chivalry novels, in wild tracts and remote territorial margins, this initial examination of typical historical novel space will be mainly a discussion of rural scenes, of landscapes rather than cities and built environments. In such scenes for which he is justly famous, Scott does a good deal more than record and repo rt. Rather, he bends the shapes of landscapes real and imagined to the manifold purposes of his story, consistently creating spaces that both reveal and inhibit knowledge, point out cultural and historical details but also conceal potential threats, and enthusiastically participate in his narratives characteristic genre jumble. His sublime rural scenes, romantically invested with mysterious, even metaphysical qualities, both blend and contend with the historicity of built environments or architectural comp onents, resulting in a landscape at once highly figurative, rhetorical and paradigmatic. Rural representations bracket the meticulously realized task of world building undertaken by the characters, dialogue, and historical notes by demarcating the limits of what can be known; as such they both reflect and interrogate the imperfect processes of retrieving the past. A Maximum of Elaboration: Waverley and the Poetics of Space In his classic study Sir Walter Scott and the Historical I m agination (1979), David Brown develops his interpretation of Scotts Waverley by drawing attention to a particularly striking
34 natural scene in the novel: that of two converging, unequal brooks. This motif, which appears several times, appears first in Chapter Twenty Two immediately prior to the romantically charged forest meeting between Scotts eponymous hero and Flora MacIvor: In a spot, about a quarter of a mile from the castle, two brooks, which formed the little river, had their junction. The larger of the two came down the long bare valley, which extended, apparently without any change or elevation of character, as far as the hills which formed its boundary permitted the eye to reach. But the other stream, which had its source among the mountains on the left hand of th e strath, seemed to issue from a very narrow and dark opening betwixt two large rocks. These streams were different also in character. The larger was placid, and even sullen in its course, wheeling in deep eddies, or sleeping in dark blue pools; but the motions of the lesser brook were rapid and furious, issuing from between precipices, like a maniac from his confinement, all foam and uproar. (104105) For Brown the scene is curiously analytic, consisting of more than Scott being merely picturesque in his description, and only partially attributable to Waverleys romantic interest in the scenic (25 26). Rather, Brown sees the image in its repeated manifestations providing a somewhat rare reading instruction, a metaphor for both the national and personal conflicts of the novel or, a sort of narrative mirror. The lesser brook bursts from the mountains with speed and ferocity, as the clans do in the r ebellion itself, while the streams can also be applied to the two currents in Waverleys life --his romantic impulses [and] the influence of common sense and reason (Brown 26). Browns interpretation seems an apt one and there is little reason to questi on it only the exception he appears to take to the passage. Curiously analytic registers Browns surprise that the description performs some function other than the expected picturesque effects and implies that such a function is unusual in Waverley at l east, if not in Scotts novels generally. Noting that the brook scene of Chapter Twenty Two is in fact unusual for a Highland location, Brown claims that Scott intends the reader to make this identification between the scene and the movement of the plot and characters (26). In fact, he notes similar instances of mirroring between landscape and plot, incident, or character elsewhere in his study: f or example, when he
35 cites E.M. W. Tillyards observation of the similarities between Highland/Lowland scene ry and the Rob Roy / Nicol Jarvie oppositions in his discussion of Rob Roy (92 93). The analytic nature of the brook scene is apparently not so curious in the sense of being rare or unusual For scholars of the historical novel, Scotts description might r ecall another passage by Alfred Doblin, prominently cited by Georg Lukacs in his seminal study, The Historical Novel (1937/62), a passage that presents the different materiel comprising the novel in terms of converging currents: The present day novel, not only the historical, is subject to two currents the one derives from the fairy tale, the other from the report. Their source is not the ether of aesthetics, but the reality of our life . The novel is caught up in a struggle between the two tendenci es: fairy tale constructions with a maximum of elaboration and a minimum of material and novel constructions with a maximum of material and a minimum of elaboration (273) Between Waverley s and Doblins convergence of streams motifs fall all of the relevant questions in this matter of historical novel spaces: from the very analytical or rhetorical nature of the scene in the novel, to its relevance as an imaging of dialectic (noted by D. D. Devlin), to Doblins noting of the factual and fairy tale (or marvelous) influences that go into the novels synthesis. For Doblin and for Lukacs who sees the historical novel as a tributary of the social realism novel the combining currents signify t he combination of different kinds of writing (or genres), as well as a prioritization, a hierarchy of influences. For instance, Doblin finds that the progressive novelist is most influenced by the report, while only the serene and satisfied (in Lukacs term, the decadent) fall back on less real, less relevant fairy tale extravagances (273). For many years of criticism, the lovingly detailed, sublime or idyllic landscapes of Scott, and of the historical novel generally, have typically been accounted part of this fairy tale current and therefore less important which is no doubt why David Brown finds the rhetorical nature of the two brooks curious or unusual.
36 If Waverleys significant brooks were indeed isolated or unusual, or if they were even isolated from other poetically significant landscapes in the novel, then there might be some reason to accept that Scotts landscapes do not normally operate in such a fashion. But in fact, the converging brooks only lead us to the famous pass of peril scene, a passage bubbling over with menace and uncertainty, a set piece whose scenery is both stagey and impossibly multi form. Around the castle, all was cold, bare, and desolate, yet tame even in desolation; but this narrow glen, at so short a distance, seemed to open into the land of romance. The rocks assumed a thousand peculiar and varied forms. In one place, a crag of huge size presented its gigantic bulk, as if to forbid the passenger's farther progress; and it was not until he approached its very base, that Waverley discerned the sudden and acute turn by which the pathway wheeled its course around this formidable obstacle. In another spot, the projecting rocks from the opposite sides of the chasm had approached so near to each other, that two pine trees laid across, and covered with turf, formed a rustic bridge at the height of at least one hundred and fifty feet. It had no ledges, and was barely three feet in breadth. (105) This landscape (which my citation only samples briefly) pulsates with various dangers both literal and imaginary: not only with actual perils to be found in nature (the high precipice, the absence of ledges), but also with the indomitable will of the place. In the best tradition of sublime, painterly landscape, this scenery resists us, both our physical presence and interpretive attempts. Not only does the Genius of the Place forbid farther passage with its gigantic bulk, a phantom giant to menace Waverleys knight of romance, but also seems ever ready to shift and transmute the scene in to a thousand peculiar and varied forms (105). At the same time, the location is so epic that it is almost operatic its fabulous qualities emphasize that it cannot be real. On the one hand, Scott emphasizes the sites other worldliness when he notes Waverleys horror as he views the appearance of Flora and Una on the bridge, like inhabitants of another region, propped [. in mid air over the gorge (105). On the other hand, the pass leads immediately to the self consciously performative, theatrical scenery where Flora MacIvor sings: a natural amphitheatre that invites Waverley to listen, to a song that
37 makes use of the brook imagery and blends with the scenery around the singer. Flora has brought Edward Waverley to this spot to listen to her song not only to interest him in the romantic scenery, but also because this scene is the fitting place for her poetry, which would suffer were I to introduce it without its own wild and appropriate accompaniments. the seat of the Celtic muse is in the mist of the secret and solitary hill, and her voice in the murmur of the mountain stream (106). Floras preface, which blends both the speaker and the poem into the scenery, is offered right after Waverley has passed by two pools that seem to reflect the d ifferent characters of the MacIvor siblings, Flora and Fergus: the one remarkable for its purity, the other corresponding in beauty but of a stern and commanding cast (106). To label this space picturesque is not necessarily wrong, but it is to under state severely its complexity, composition, and shifting focus. The scenes painterly sublimity is both obvious it conveys both the terrible and the beautiful at once, producing astonishment in the spectator and self referential the names of landscape pain ters like Poussin and Lorrain are forever on the narrators lips. In terms of the Bakhtinian chronotope, the space is difficult to pigeonhole, participating at once in both the definite and indefinite categories, as well as being both cramped (the projecting surfaces crowd the view) and vast (the immense size of the objects in view awe the viewer). One of the most dramatic representations of landscape in Waverley, the pass of peril shows Scott working in a highly figurative mode, employing a poetic, abs tract, even legendary diction. And within the textual space of only a few pages, the novels space has mirrored both political conflict in the streams (the placid stream of Hanoverian complacency, the foam and uproar of militant Jacobitism [Devlin, qtd in Brown 26]) and main characters in the contrasting pools. Its description has both imitated and alluded to a variety of other genres and artistic categories, from romance to landscape painters to medieval epic poets.
38 Space has, in short, assumed a thousand peculiar and varied forms before the readers eyes. That the space is based on a real place, according to Scotts note, becomes almost irrelevant; in this space, as in Scotts narrative form itself, much has been made from little. In its spaces and i ts narrative, Waverley everywhere heightens composition with a maximum of elaboration. The pass of peril scene is not a typical moment in the Waverley landscape, but is rather a distillation of all that can happen in the palimpsest of space in Scott. In its intensely concentrated, richly textured description, it encapsulates the kind of categorical sifting that occurs throughout the entire series of Waverley Novels both spatially and generically. Famously, Scott begins Waverley itself by shuffling through genres and sub genres and declaring what it will not be : not a sentimental tale, nor a tale of modern manners, nor a romance of chivalry, and so on. But as an extended work about the passions common to all men in all stages of society, full of sly authorial comparisons to contemporary times, rich in romantic scenery and sublime effects, it partakes of all these types and more, without resolving to be one in particular (5). The Author of Waverley does close the novel with a nod to Maria Edgeworth and a hope that he has emulated her authentic regional portraiture of habits, manners, and feelings (341) an acknowledgment leading many critics to define Scott as a regional novelist, and to see the historical novel as an outgrowth of this form. But this late acknowledgement doesnt mean Waverley strives for some detached journalistic authenticity: only for a degree of specificity, even novelty, that will differentiate its Scottish subjects from the stereotype stage representations who so long, with the most perfect family resemblance to each other, occupied the drama and the novel (341). Scott wants his Scottish characters to be true to some degree, but also dramatically refreshing and striking, composed from a blend of different source materials and moods.
39 The Author of Waverley relies partly on what he has witnessed in younger days and partly from knowledge gathered from tradition but of course, he also relies a good deal on eighteenth century novels. Apart from Edgeworth, he acknowledges two immediate l iterary models at the end, the one a realistic novel of rural Scottish habits (Hamiltons The Cottagers of Glenburnie ) and the other the late Account of Highland Superstitions by Mrs. Anne Grant (341).1 1 As previously noted, he also indirectly acknowledges Henry Mackenzies sentimental novel, The Man of Feeling, by dedicating Waverley to Mackenzie. In short, Waverley s characters and manners have be en formed from a mixture of authentic and theoretical, and even legendary, stuff the report and the fairy tale, we might say, recalling Alfred Doblin, except that these two broad theoretical sources only scratch the surface of the many categories Scott bor rows from. Accordingly, the novels characters and manners, to say nothing of the character and manner of its narrator, sample from a diverse mixture of mood and genre. Its worth looking briefly at a few examples of this sampling to see how, even though Waverley in some ways is not a typical Waverley Novel, it nevertheless sets the precedent for the historical novel to be a generic palimpsest: an all purpose fiction. For starters, despite its narrators alleged intentions of distancing his novel from romance, Waverley quickly resorts to Romantic poetic passages that claim to characterize its protagonist better than narrative of any kind: Craving pardon for my heroics, says the narrator when the first poem is done, which I am unable in certain cases to resist givin g way to (22, 24). In Chapter Thirteen the novel follows an original Romantic song with a semi legendary Gothic folk tale, prompting Rose Bradwardine to complain teasingly Must I tell my story as well as sing my song? (61). Indeed, each of the novels h eroines offers songs, contributing to the atmosphere of balladry and minstrelsy already evoked by the narrators frequent allusions. Original songs and poems in the mouths of Waverley s characters are, of course, perfectly to be expected of the author of T he Lay
40 of the Last Minstrel (1805) and Marmion (1808), nor should the narrators ballad allusions surprise readers of Scotts Minstrelsy (18023). Such obvious juxtapositions should go without saying and yet are rarely observed today, when only a few novel s are read, and those primarily for Scotts insights as Scot and historian, not as poet and philosopher.2 The narrators lovingly recounted, parenthetical anecdotes in explanatory notes or recounting of Scottish customs in bald and disjointed chat more perhaps to the amusement of Waverley than that of our readers (88) show Scott the poet giving place not to the historian so much as the editor, recalling the talkative, informal tone in the Minstrelsy s copious notes.3These are only a few examples of this playfully intertextual, deliberately fragmented and fragmenting na rrative mode that Scott establishes in Waverley and continues to model throughout the remainder of his fiction. The often fragmented narration, the persistent quoting and paraphrasing from poems and plays, the imitation of stage dialogue, the textual and e xplanatory notes, the inclusion of folk and original verse, and the frame stories one of the forms most self referential techniques of manipulating the narrative, offering elaborate accounts of how the main body of the text has fallen into the hands of the editor: all these devices contribute to the Waverley novels ready made palimpsest effect, a narrative mode that remained in service to the genre throughout the century, in all its variations. It is not that the typical British After Waverley the scraps of verse and snippets from old plays begin to be prominently featured as epigraphs to each chapter, a favorite practice of Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe. 2 Here Im specifically paraphrasing James Reed, who claims that Scott sees landscape not as poet or philosopher but as countryman, predator, historian, [and] soldier (9). 3 It was not only the poetry that betrayed him. His biographer, J. G. Lockhart, records that John Wilson, Christopher North, exclaimed of those who doubted [ Waverley] to be Scotts, have they forgotten the prose of the Minstrelsy? (Lamont vii, original emphasis).
41 historical novel fails to create unity in its style and narration, but that, in its palimpsest mode of borrowing and conflating, it succeeds in creating a delightful disunity. Every bit as evident as the textual palimpsest is the spatial palimpsestthe categorical swirl in the Wa verley landscape that investigates not only the national, religious, and political oppositions that have most occupied the past century of Scott criticism, but also poetic oppositions about the kind of literary production the historical novel is and about the kinds of knowledge the Author of Waverley is imparting. Again, Waverley itself excels at interrogating binaries of novel/romance, history/fiction, and knowledge/speculation through its landscapes, resulting in a panorama that may well read time into space (as Bakhtin suggests), but also certainly reads genre and epistemology into space. Historically, the spaces of the Waverley Novels are sensitive to the event (as James Reed claims), but poetically they transcend the event, painting oppositions in the broader, more universal colors of genre and symbol. They are thus consistent with Waverley s stated moral agenda of recognizing the deep ruling impulses running throughout history, the unchangeable passions of humanity that transcend historical particu larities: Upon these passions it is no doubt true that the state of manners and laws casts a necessary coloring; but the bearings, to use the language of heraldry, remain the same, though the tincture may be not only different, but opposed in strong contra distinction . It is from the great book of Nature, the same through a thousand editions, whether of black letter or wire wove and hot pressed, that I have venturously essayed to read a chapter to the public. Some favorable opportunities of contrast have been afforded me, by the state of society in the northern part of the island at the period of my history, and may serve to illustrate the moral lessons which I would willingly consider as the most important part of my plan . (5) Scotts most imp ortant arguments and observations are to be found in the great book of Nature, a Fielding esque phrase that also recalls Hugos proclamation that architecture and cityscapes compose the great book of humanity. All at once, Scott folds morality, history and nature (human behavior as well as wild, natural scenes) into the text, then declares that the text exploits
42 favorable opportunities of contrast. He acknowledges the current of progress and historical peculiarity, figuring it in visual terms (c oloring), but in true Enlightenment historian fashion, he also emphasizes the unchangeable nature that opposes and balances it. All the operative terms are here, then, in what has become the definitive historical novel: the contrasts that form the rheto ric of the genre, the way that nature forms a text, and different kinds of texts can be encoded into nature. Genre and the Text of Space: Waverley Encoding genre into a novels described space involves both description and characterization: the kind of i nformation making up the description or the way in which characters seem to be interpreting a presumably objective environment. What we can expect from a novelist who opposes genres in space is ambiguity here, a haziness about whether it is author, narrator or character who sees certain qualities in the landscape. Is the scenery really Gothic or does the protagonist whose shoulder we look over have Gothic on the brain? Does the change in scenery constitute a change in genre, i.e. a change in the modes and devices of storytelling, or a subjective change, reflecting the mood or state of mind of the narrator or character? What we can expect from a novelist or from a form of the novel that opposes genres in space, both setting opposing genres within the same s pace and interrogating ideas about genre in spatial description, is for the changes and the ambiguity to feature consistently throughout the novel, becoming more than just an odd moment, anomaly, or the sort of momentary emotional shift that results from the novelists particular associations. Gillian Tindall notes, in a passage that especially resonates with Scott: however apparently real and identifiable a locale, each novelist will bring to it a personal freight of preoccupations, moral prejudices, memories and dreams: one writers blasted heath will be anothers unspoilt country retreat (vii). Scott
43 probably brings as much personal freight to scenes as any author, but his treatment of space is too deliberate to be solely accounted for this way. In Vi ctorian Renovations of the Novel (1998), Suzanne Keen makes a strong case for the narrative annex in Victorian fiction, moments when space and genre change from a novels established norm to permit certain kinds of narration, characterization, problem an d protest. But by definition Keens annexes are short and incongruous, temporary shifts, set apart in physical setting and mood from the rest of the novel. There is not a consistent shifting, not a consistent ambiguity in the works Keen looks at. But then she doesnt work with Scott or the historical novel she doesnt look at the palimpsest of space, the palimpsest of genre that regularly occurs within the form. We find in Waverley exactly this sort of ambiguity, consistently developed. Critics typically resolve it one way or another, however, by deciding either that Edward Waverleys mind is playing tricks on him or that the Author of Waverley is playing tricks on us. In his readin g in Romantic Imperialism (1998), for example, Saree Makdisi argues for the latter option. Definitely not in agreement with Bakhtin, Reed, and Moretti that Scott is transcribing historical process onto the landscape, Makdisi determines that modes of storyt elling and degrees of objectivity really do change in Waverley, as Edward Waverley passes from England into Scotland. He argues that the English side of the border is the firm ground of the knowable; once Waverley has entered Scotland (or at any rate, th e Highlands) he leaves the knowable behind and commences an unpredictable, because untruthful, imaginary tour of the Highlands (81, 84). The change in the quality of information is cued by the change in the scenery, from the timelessness and truthfulness of English spaces to the barbarianism and falseness of Scottish spaces, scenery which Waverley is always either charmed by or afraid of (Makdisi 83, 86).
44 Although he does not explicitly claim that the Border has signaled a change in genre, the politic al thrust of Makdisis argument sustains that reading. The transformation of Waverleys space at the Border means that Scott here begins writing in bad faith: neglecting the novelists duty to report on the political relationships between England and Scotl and, denying the representation of present Scotland, pretending that the destruction of its national heritage was set in the past when in fact it was still going on (76) In other words, Scott begins writing a romance, historical romance, historical nove l, or at any rate some other genre than what is called for : a faithfully described contemporary novel, describing the sociopolitical situation between the two nations. Makdisi looks to Scott expecting the fidelity of the social novelist, observing his own time, and finds him romancing and pretending, writing the fairy tale rather than the report. Because Edward Waverley has stuffed his head with romances prior to crossing the Border, indulging in a desultory habit of reading and literary castle bui lding (13, 15), other readers have been well prepared to account for Waverley s scenic transformations differently, deciding that not Scott but Waverley himself causes or sees the landscapes romantic transformations. After all, Waverley habitually indul ges in the romantic nature of the scenery: I am actually in the land of military and romantic adventures, he thinks in Chapter Fifteen, and it only remains to be seen what will be my own share in them (72). His enthusiasm for the landscape and its asso ciations is foregrounded repeatedly, and is often expressed in self consciously literary terms (as when St. Swithins Chair reminds him of King Lear Bean Leans cave reminds him of Robin Hood, and so forth). There is certainly much to recommend the notion that Waverleys scenery is filtered through its heros erudite but immature sensibilities or perhaps functions as a sort of extension of his subjectivity. But its logical consequences actually undercut the commitment to naturalism and authenticity which D avid Brown and other critics
45 assume of Scott. What could be more like old romance than a scene that changes and transforms with the mood, emotions and well being of the hero? One of Georg Lukacs most enduring contributions to the political discussion about Scott has been his emphasis on Scotts efforts always to find the middle way: between warring classes, between nations, between conservative and radical systems and so on. Middle ways, negotiations, or synthesis seem like good concepts for the Scott l andscape discussion as well, since no single explanation for Scotts landscape effects sufficiently accounts for their ambiguity. What happens in the Scott landscape generically might be thought of in dialectical terms, then, or as a step towards Morettis concept of the third, the mediating force of the novel that compromises binaries (7073). But we should be quite sure that if Edward Waverleys own Quixote like imagination and moral judgments carry over into and influence the scenery, so too do Scotts It is as a blend, a palimpsest of layers, that the Scott landscape can best be understood: as a feature consistent with the medieval romances it imitates and draws from, which allowed a casual interplay between history and miracle and could encompass the marvellous and the everyday without any change of key (Beer 17). Indeed, the scene of Waverley is constantly invested in intertwining and conflating these categories. Makdisis claim that Waverley s Highlands are imaginary may not be strictly accurate, but that the Author of Waverley plays generic tricks with space, especially with Highland space, is undeniable. As has often been remarked upon, the novelistic style employed when describing Tully Veolans straggling hamlet in the Lowlands changes to a more ominous, metaphoric style when Waverley enters the Highlands. And, though it is probably right that the poetic character of the description is strongest at the border (as Moretti argues), the generic character of
46 the scenery remains qualitatively d ifferent throughout the Scottish scenes of the novel.4But Edward Waverleys role in the novel must also be taken into account, as well as his romantic subjectivity. To the extent that England is the firm ground of the knowable (by its very unremarkability, the authors lack of fuss over it), it is such not because Scott is interested in negating or appropriating Scotland, but because his protagonist is English. The Highlanders walk their own firm, knowable ground in the Highlands, making confident and swift progress through country that seems impassible to Edward, by tracks which no one but a Highlander could have followed (77). Scott labors this point that what to Edward seems treacherous ground is perfectly familiar and ordinary to them throughout Chapter Sixteen as Edward follows Evan Dhu through Highland country for the first time: The English locations at the beginning of Waverley, for instance, are not so much a contrast to the Scottish spaces as they are intangible, almost unremarked upon. In keeping with the eighteenthcentur y domestic novel that the early chapters most emulate, the English settings are taken for granted, summed up in a few strokes of exposition (as might be Squire Allworthys estate). Scott does not even begin to describe, does not even pull out his paint box until the text of space becomes the kingdom of romance. The path itself was rough, broken, and in many places quaggy and unsound. Sometimes the ground was s o completely unsafe, that it was necessary to spring from one hillock to another, the space being incapable of bearing human weight. This was an easy matter to the Highlanders, who wore thinsoled brogues fit for the purpose, and moved with a peculiar spri nging step . (77) When the path seems to disappear, altogether undiscernible in the murky darkness, Evan Dhu (or Evan Black, a name merging the man with the murk) seemed to trace it by instinct, 4 Even before leaving the Lowlands, Waverley has exulted in the projecting turret, Gothic balcony, formal garden, with its high bounding walls, massive but ruined tower frowning from a promontory over the river, and solitary and seemingly enchanted mansion at TullyVeolan (37, 59).
47 without the hesitation of a moment, and Edward fol lowed his footsteps as close as he could (78). For Edward this country calls for his complete surrender to the full romance of his situation, and he basks on the banks of an unknown lake fantasizing about Robin Hood and Adam oGordon (78). But for the Highlanders it is routine.5Such passages have led to the deduction that Waverleys romantic scenic effects derive largely from Waverleys imagination that his romantic interest in the scenic busily converts the landscape into fuel for his overactive i magination. But surely this is dramatic scenery in earnest, whether or not it corresponds to actual Scottish landscape tremendous rocks, twisted roots, a foaming stream, a hundred falls, a thousand birds of prey bolting from cover near a mountain pass between two mountains, both very lofty and covered with heath (76 77). There is no need to blame Edwards imagination entirely for its effects (as we might Catherine Morland, actively misinterpreting the relatively mundane surroundings of Northange r Abbey ). Romance addled Edward Waverley may be especially impressionable to picturesque country, but that is not to say the text of space does not actually change character. Rather, the dramatic landscape, rendered in more or less uniformly spectacular an d superlative terms, elicits obviously different responses from the human figures in the landscape, and these differences have to do with genre: with modes of storytelling, characteristic settings, motifs and characters, and the different expectations they produce. For instance, as Edward sits by his unknown lake (a known lake to the Scots!) dreaming about Robin Hood and romantic adventure, Scott punctures his expectations with a mundane, decidedly novelistic, detail: The only circumstance which assorted i ll with the rest [of his situation] was the cause of his 5 Contrast Waverleys anxieties over the uneven ground with Jeanie Deans comment about the strange land of England, in The Heart of Mid Lothian: Im glad to hear theres a hill, for baith my sight and my very feet are weary o sic tracks o level ground (292). A Scot traveling south into England, Jeanie has essentially reversed Waverleys journey. Her weariness makes it clear that the same ground Waverley has found impassable is to her firm, knowable, and even comforting.
48 journey the Barons milk cows! this degrading incident he kept in the background (78). When Edward tries to forget the fact that his glorious road north through such exciting country has been occasi oned by missing livestock, its a clear sign of the novel intruding upon the romance. In some ways, Edward Waverley is the novel protagonist, touring the romances landscape.6To the Scots, however, this territory is their novel something Scott makes clear in the scene following Waverleys night in Donald Bean Leans cave, in Chapter Eighteen. Waverley walks out into the glorious Highland morning and gains the wild and precipitous shores of a Highland loch, surrounded by heathy and savage mountains (83). The wildness and savagery is subverted by his discovery of Alice Bean Lean, who is nonchalantly preparing a meal like any dutiful daughter of the sentimental novel. In a sunny recess (one of many fortuitous, niche like indentations in the scene), Alice, the damsel of the cavern, sings Highland songs and prepares milk, eggs, bread, butter, and honey, all provisions gathered from the land or from nearby farms (83). Yet, the narrator emphasizes, she has still secured ti me also to arrange her own person in the best trim (84). She sets Edwards place with the courtesy of a hostess, while Evan Dhu appears bearing fresh caught fish for the breakfast table (84). The scene is as domestic a scene as may be found in any novel from Austens Heart of England; to Edward it clangs against the landscape discordantly, but not to his Highlander companions. 6 The idea is an inversion of the way Waverley is often read, where romance obsessed Ed ward is disillusioned (though initially seduced) by the realities of Scotts Scotland: romance is shocked and offended by reality, retreats to cozy English provincialism, and learns to keep romance in its proper place (framed on the wall). But Edward Waver ley is manifestly a character from just such an English novel setting, as his eventual retirement to the provincial country house reveals. Alistair Duckworth draws on Flora MavIvors ironic criticism of Edward to demonstrate that he is out of place: Yet F lora comes to see that high and perilous enterprise is not Waverleys forte, and she ironically measures his inadequacy by picturing him in his future country house setting ( Landscape 116). The contrast between high and perilous enterprise and the pla ce where he will be at home, the country house, is a generic contrast: between romance or adventure on one hand and the sentimental British novel on the other ( Waverley 250).
49 Like the detail of the cattle, the landscape here emphasizes that it is Edward who is the stranger, out of place in the scene. The landscape foregrounds and contextualizes Edwards struggles to understand his surroundings his physical and cultural surroundings, certainly, but also his assumptions about genre, romance and reality, the marvelous and the everyday. Edward Waverle y is constantly measuring the novels events against the landscape, as we might measure a drama scene against a seemingly discordant stage backdrop. He consults the landscape to figure out what kind of story he is in (something which Waverleys narrator ne ver really decides) and struggles to keep up with the expectations the scenery arouses and the way his companions behavior undermines those expectations. His desultory reading has led him to predict that dramatic scenery is the proper locale for milita ry and romantic adventure this is actually a correct prediction, one the novel bears out. It might be objected that this landscape as contextualization aid for which I am arguing is nothing more than James Reeds idea of locality, the landscape as a resonant cultural and historical continuum, the fitting back ground for rich and memorable Scottish characters to spring from. After all, the landscape which strikes Edward Waverley as so romantic and exotic seems to have a verifiable history, which Edwards Highland tour guides occasionally pause to relate to him. What he has not understood so well is that his land of marvelous adventures is also the land of the Highlanders everyday lives that these two worlds, these two type s of story, share the same space. 7 7 This, said Evan, is the pass of Bally Brough, which was kept in former times by ten of the clan Donnochie against a hundred of the low country carls. The graves of the slain are still to be seen in that little corri, or bottom, on the opposite side of the burn (76). The Pass of Bally Brough is either fictional or fictionalized, tentatively identified by nineteenth century tourists as that immediately above Dunkeld, leading into the Highlands (Anonymous, qtd in Lamont 425). It is not, in any case, a verifiable, guidebook factoid that Scott inserts into the mouth of his char acter. If we are traveling not through invented space but recorded place, does it make sense to talk about Waverleys scenic/generic ambiguity?
50 There are two reasons why I argue that landscape contextualizes and emphasizes genre in Scott rather than merely, and occasionally, emphasizing Reeds idea of locality. First, Makdisis main claim for Waverley space is quite true for most Waverley Novel space: it is fluid and unstable, more likely to be imaginative than verifiable, although not out of character entirely. Once you exclude the numerous unidentifiable, generic wild spaces, as well as the spaces that seem real but are conflations and fictionalizations, the real places in Scott are relatively few. Further, even those wild scenes that might be claimed authe ntically Scottish are liable to shift and transmute, natural elements shifting to artificial, recalling not so much authentic scenery as stage scenery and props (a quality I discuss further below). Second, the scene opposes genre in the manner I have des cribed throughout the Waverley Novels not just in the Scottish novels. Reading locality in the scene, where the term means a personally observed regional authenticity, confines us to Scotland again, and needlessly. I have characterized the landscape i n Waverley as emphasizing and interrogating genre: the landscape as a background that can foreground questions about storytelling, style, motif, and types of knowledge. The protagonist looks to the landscape to learn what kind of story he is in, what kind of drama he is enacting, and as Waverley wonders, what will be his own share in the appropriate action. The landscape assists in determining the truth, style, category or character of the narrative, or of the characters place within it. As I have argu ed above, Waverley does not so much argue that Scotland isnt a land of romance, but that Waverley himself is not a character from romance: like Mackenzies Man of Feeling, he is hopelessly out of step with the environment he is exploring.8 8 Henry Mackenzies Harley moves from pastoral country to squalid city settings in The Man of Feeling (1771), prepared by reading literature, languages, philosophy, arithmetic, bookkeeping, and law, pressed and instructed by advisors to be confiden t and unapologetic in his bid for crownlands in the city. Like Waverley, his education fits his destination in many ways, yet harsh London encounters and the selfishness of his fellow creatures fail to remove
51 What we can expect from a novelist who opposes genres in space is for the environment to function similarly symbolically, metaphorically, paradigmatically regardless of the novels setting. In the nonScottish as well as the Scottish Waverley Novels we should find Sc otts characters making assumptions about genre based on the landscape, or looking to the landscape as an index to narrative and character. In fact, landscapes are referenced this way throughout the Waverley Novels as may be seen from a few brief examples Genre and the Text of Space: The Talisman and The Monastery Though it features a Scots protagonist, The Talisman (1825) is set entirely in Syria, a place Scott never visited, and so is exempt from sharing in the personal and historical resonance of James Reeds Border country locality. The novel opens with a desert encounter between a Crusader, Sir Kenneth, and a Saracen Emir, Sheerkohf. When Sheerkohf observes that the knights heavily loaded horse is inappropriate to the desert surroundings, Kenneth taunts him by seeming to pass off a fairy tale about his homeland: Thou speakest according to thy knowledge and observation. But my good horse hath ere now borne me, in mine own land, over as wide a lake as thou seest yonder spread out behind us, yet not wet one hair above his hoof. He further claims to have ridden with five hundred mailed knights for miles, upon water as solid as the crystal, and ten times less brittle. It is justly spoken, Sheerkohf replies: list to a Frank, and hear a fable. T hat the Dead Sea by the curse of God suffereth nothing to sink in its waves, but wafts them away, and casts them on its margin, Sheerkohf accepts as a familiar fact part of his own knowledge and observation. But Kenneths explanation of the frozen lake he the rust from his sentimental nature, the na ivet or bashfulness that all men should have rubbed off by travel and experience (3 4). Harleys training for the city has been training for a city story, but in the end he proves a man of feeling rather than practicality, and retreats to the country to die. Scotts Waverley is dedicated to Mackenzie, and echoes many of his novels features, such as its narrative gimmickry, an interest in landscape less common in the novel of sentiment than in other types, and affinities with the Gothic novel (Slagle viii).
52 rejects as fable, looking to his own landscape to confirm that the knight (like all Christians) loves telling what is impossible, and reporting what never chanced (2122). As Kenneth and Sheerkohf travel on in Chapter Three, the scene begins to c hange, Scotts diction evoking the Gothic the Biblical, and Dantes Inferno. The knight remains indifferent to the Muslims stories of wild animals and robbers, but the dark caverns and chasms amongst the rocks, those grottoes so often alluded to in Scri pture, convince him that he was now in the awful wilderness of the forty days fast, and the scene of the actual personal temptation, wherewith the Evil Principle was permitted to assail the Son of Man (36 37). The change of scene changes the character of both narrative and companion to Sir Kenneth. Sheerkohfs incongruous and carefree singing of drinking songs now strikes him as dangerously irreverent in the unholy surroundings: As it was, the Crusader felt as if he had by his side some gay licentious fiend, who endeavored to ensnare his immortal soul, and endanger his immortal salvation, by inspiring loose thoughts of earthly pleasure, and thus polluting his devotion, at a time when his faith as a Christian, and his vow as a pilgrim, called on him for a serious and penitential state of mind. (37) The alteration of landscape thus signals an alteration of genre and mood, of ways of knowing and predicting what will happen, and the knight who had been mocking Sheerkohf with alleged fables now tells him that this placethese rocks these caverns with their gloomy arches, leading as it were to the central abyss are held an especial haunt of Satan and his angels (38). In the very next chapter, the scene and style of narrative change again, becoming more obviously Gothic : Kenneth accompanies the hermit Theodorick to an elaborate chapel hidden within the rocks of this same unholy ground, a labyrinthine structure complete with secret passageways, trapdoors, and an altar to a fragment of the true cross. Throughout The Talismans opening chapters, then, the scene remains as fluid and imaginary as any scene of Waverley, and as capable of transmuting to suit the mood and purposes of the story. Repeatedly
53 the protagonist looks to the scene for clues about how he shoul d behave: a tricky practice, since the scene, and the generic rules, keep shifting. On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Monastery (1820) is set in a region very like Scotlands Melrose and definitely near the Scottish Border, yet it is never read as o ne of the Scottish Waverley Novels due in part to its remote temporal setting (Elizabeths time), but mainly to the enthusiastic use of supernatural elements in the story. It therefore represents an interesting middle ground among the Waverley Novels : geog raphically located in the locale Scott knows best (his backyard, in fact, if the setting is taken to be Melrose) but most resembling the Chivalry novels in mood, tone and period. With the novels enchanted ravine, Corrie nan shian, Scotts encoding of genr e into landscape becomes especially evident, as characters traversing this evilreputed glen encounter not only moody, threatening scenery but also an actual ghost, the White Lady, and one who speaks in verse, no less so, brooding romantic scenery, Gothi c device, and a shift from prose to poesy, yet only within this charmed region (46). Corrie nan shian could be one of Suzanne Keens narrative annexes, it seems, except that the novel spends a great deal of time there: it is no temporary incongruity of s pace. Most importantly, both the imaginative and susceptible characters (the novels Edward Waverleys) and the defiantly skeptical characters experience these generic changes at Corrienan shian establishing that these changes are not merely filtered thr ough heated, impressionable minds. Both timid Father Philip, cynical Father Eustace, and several other characters besides, encounter the White Lady and get an earful of romantic verse, nearly all of these encounters occurring within the mysterious precinct s of this generic border country. Its long been acknowledged that The Monastery is the great exception to the other Waverley Novels : the first relative failure in the series, the only novel with a sequel, and the
54 novel Scott seems most determined both to apologize for and defend. James Reed finds in The Monastery evidence of Scotts compulsion to treat Scottish themes and settings, but finds that the novel embeds tradition, history, superstitions and scenery in t oo enthusiastic a manner to create a work of art: in overdoing the ingredients Scott ruins the dish (137). But these same ingredients are embedded just as heatedly, just as enthusiastically in Waverley (as its pass of peril scene makes clear). For Reed The Monastery draws on Scotts rich knowledge of Border landscape and character, but lacks involvement and animation; to paraphrase somewhat mischievously, the magic is missing. There seems no way to account for the novels differences or its failure with in the framework of Reeds locality except by faulting Scott with bookishness and over enthusiasm here, but not elsewhere, among the Scottish novels. It seems reasonable to suppose, in the light of what I have argued above, that The Monastery seems so d ifferent because in it Scott resolves the ambiguity between space and genre for the one and only time in the Waverley Novels Genre changes within set precincts of land, but nowhere else, and within those precincts genre changes unequivocally. To alter Har ry Shaws observation about Waverley Novel complexity, here the complexity is obtrusive.9Why The Monastery is so very different makes it the great puzzle of the Waverley series, and in some measure Scotts own great puzzle. In the lengthy introductory chapters of both The Fortunes of Nigel ( 1822) and Peveril of the Peak ( 1822) he spends considerable time trying to work out why The Monastery had so alienated his readership; he wrote The Abbot (1821), his only sequel, to make up for it. The question of why the generic mixture did not work so well for In The Monastery characters may leave the everyday and enter the realm of the marvelous; in other Waverley Novels the marvelous and the everyday jostle for the same space. 9 Harry E. Shaw notes that the Waverley novels lend themselves to univocal readings because their complexity is unobtrusive (159).
55 the British reader in The Monastery i s made more puzzling when we consider the much more overt juxtapositions of natural/supernatural or real/marvelous that characterized the very popular work of W. H. Ainsworth, appearing less than 15 years after The Monastery s publication. It could well be argued, however, that by Ainsworths day the British historical novel had a very different ethos and reputation. As I will discuss when I examine his novels in Chapter Four what seemed a subtly compromised yet essentially realistic form in 1820 seemed mu ch more of an open, experimental and variously contrasting form when Ainsworths Rookwood appeared in 1834. In this way The Monastery for all its awkwardness and flaws, actually proved to be more influential to the genre than many of the more canonical Scottish novels in the series: it suggested that the historical novelist could be more boldly experimental with styles of writing and ways of knowing than Scott had demonstrated before it. The Splendid Theatre: Stage Space in the Waverley Novel And what does separate the romance land of Corrienan shian, where improbability and poetry reign supreme, from the more prosaic spaces of The Monastery s Glendearg (which, if it isnt Melrose, at least looks a lot like it)? In Scott what separates one type of spac e and one type of storytelling from another may be nothing but the space of the page; a chapter division or authorial disclaimer may be the only boundary between particular generic modes and moods. But when he does actually describe a dividing line, a bor der in a representational sense, that line itself is likely to be ambiguous, compromised, and shifting. Not surprisingly, it may be a border that is also a Border, a representational line that coincides with a national or cultural line, as so many critics have remarked of the Highlands border in Waverley. Or it may be only the crumbling, half collapsed stone wall that separates wild from architectural space, the timeless from the historical, as in the St. Ruths Abbey scenes of The Antiquary (1816). Or the border may feature a sentinel or gatekeeper who points to the ambiguity between genres and effects, as
56 happens in Kenilworth (1821). When the disguised Amy Robsart flees to Kenilworth castle she finds the gate kept by a fake giant who has forgotten his scripted lines an entirely appropriate boundary marker between Amys real drama and the self conscious mummery and play acting within the castle grounds. Perhaps because space and genre are so starkly differentiated in The Monastery the border between the poetic and the prosaic is especially distinctive, even authorial. Between the haunted and unpredictable space of Corrie nan shian and the grounds of the monastery runs a classical stream, traversed only by a bridge of very peculiar form (47): Two strong abutments were built on either side of the river, at a part where the stream was peculiarly contracted. Upon a rock in the centre of the current was built a solid piece of masonry, constructed like the pier of a bridge, and presenting, like a pier, an angle to the current of the stream. The masonry continued solid until the pier rose to a level with the two abutments upon either side, and from thence the building rose in the form of a tower. The lower story of this tower consisted only of an archway or passage through the building, over either entrance to which hung a drawbridge with counterpoises, either of which, when dropped, connected the archway with the opposite abutment, where the farther end of the drawbridge rested. When both bridges were thus lowered, the passage over the river was complete. (47) This peculiar structure is itself multipurpose: both bridge and insulated fortalice, capable of connecting or separating the two regions at the will of its keeper (47). It can literally turn the traveler, and therefore the story, this way or that. In the event of disputes, the bridge ward had usually the better in these questions, since he could at pleasure detain the traveller on the opposite side (4748). After The Monastery s lukewarm recepti on, Scotts authorial personae were alternately defensive or aloof and apologetic: he was impatient of attempts to limit the kinds of literary experimentation which were thought appropriate for him ( Robertson 54). Its easy to imagine the Author of Waver ley as the keeper of this bridge between genres and regions, especially when the novels bridge ward proves rather arbitrary about letting the bridge down, and deaf to the angry foot travelers demands in Chapter Five.
57 As with so many locations in Scott, for all its evident metaphoric and narrative significance, this peculiar fortress bridge also seems based on a real place: just such a strange structure actually existed at a small hamlet about a mile and a half above Melrose, called from the circumstance Bridge end (476). To restate my earlier question: if we are traveling not through invented space but recorded place, does it make sense to talk about The Monastery s authorial bridge and its symbolic significance? Do the actual bridge, the ruins of the abbey, and other similar topographical features confirm that the novel is indeed set in Melrose, and that Scott has again drawn on his strongest powers by including them in The Monastery (that is, his powers of observation and appreciation of region and locality)? If so, neither James Reed nor most critics of Scott acknowledge this but then, interpreting Scott is largely a matter of deciding when and when not to believe him; the same narrator who assures us in footnotes that these are real locations essentially deni es the claim elsewhere within the same texts. Opposing perceptions of Scott the Poet and Scott the Historian/Journalist/Observer are often formed by criticism selecting which passages and assurances are authoritative and legitimate. Having developed a dynamic of valuing Scotts historical specificity, local observation, regional authenticity, and international/cultural dialectic, we have gradually chosen to believe Scott when his statements confirm these associations: when Waverleys narrator insists his ta le is not a romance, for instance, or tips his hat to Maria Edgeworths authentic regional fiction. Arguments about space in Scott follow this dynamic, thus dismissing poetic liberties taken with real places as mere picturesqueness and effect. The idea tha t we can trust Scott about real places, that we can pay relatively little attention to his fictional spaces, is another way of embracing Lukacs what is new in Scott instead of what is old: the historical and realistic rather than the Gothic and romantic Embracing the idea
58 emphasizes place rather than space, context rather than canvas and also leads to misunderstandings about Scott, the historical novel genre, and the poetic functions of its spaces. For instance, when James Reed concludes that The Monas tery is set in Melrose, he accepts and cites Scotts introductory comment that he chose for the scene the celebrated ruins of Melrose, in the immediate neighborhood of his own residence, but leaves out his later statement that the scene is in some respects nonexistent and in any case conflated.10 Reed finds Scott tapping into the familiar vein of folklore and local tradition in The Monastery even though Scott insists that the Melrose ruins have recollections and traditions of their own, but none of them bear the most distant resemblance to the descriptions in the Romance (4) The assumption that Scott must be drawing authentically, especially in the Scottish Border region, can only be borne out if his repeated assurances that he is doing nothing of the kind are ignored.11Scotts strategy regarding space and place emphasizes the way that Waverley space is the flexible and fluid domain of genre: a space that is often deliberately artificial when at its most real or historical. When depicting actua l sites or locations, Scott is usually careful to choose places whose authenticity cannot really be challenged not because they are so familiar but because they are no longer extant or are inaccessible. He consistently invites readers to look at ruins or e ven empty sites where historic buildings used to be. In The Monastery it is the peculiar 10 A ll the cottages and even the church which once existed there, have sunk into vestiges hardly to be traced and It was not the purpose of the author to present a landscape copied from nature, but a piece of composition, in which a real scene, with which he is familiar, had afforded him some leading outlines (1, 3). [It] would be a misapprehension to suppose that, because Melrose may in general pass for Kennaquhair, or because it agrees with scenes of The Monastery in the circumstances of the drawbridge, the milldam, and other points of resemblance, that therefore an accurate or perfect local similitude is to be fo und in all the particulars of the picture. (2) 11 Philippa Tristram goes so far as to note the difference between a Gothic novel like Udolpho, where ancient buildings are impressionistic, and an historical novel like Ivanhoe rooted in fact and actual place (19). The comparison seems to assume that Ivanhoe s spaces support the most common critical position about Scott and Gothic, that they may be separated with some confidence on the grounds of historical realism (Robertso n 49). But there are few historical facts in Ivanhoe and almost no actual places. There are, however, a number of ancient and impressionistic buildings.
59 bridge and the ruins of Melrose Abbey itself. In Kenilworth a major portion of the novel is spent at Cumnor Place, an ancient mansion [whose] ruins may be still extant, or so says the narrator; in fact, its remains had been demolished only a decade before Scott was writing, suggesting that its absence rather than its presence inspires the fantastically wrought details of the setting.12Scott is evidently seeking wiggle room in his depiction of place: a spatial reflection of the epistemological flexibility between his fictional world and its historical frame. There should be muddiness and mystification between the known, or at any rate well known, narrative of history and the fictional narrative of the Author of Waverley, and this idea plays out in Scotts persistent manipulation of space. The deliberate obscuring and altering of his beloved Border country, the fluidity of landscape that disturbs Saree Makdisi, thus aligns the Scottish settings with the most far flung settings of the Chivalry novels: both find room in obscurity to introduce fictional narratives, a very romantic use of landscape indeed. He recommends views from spots that are off limits to the reader, as when he points out his favorite place to admire the sunset over Edinburgh in The Heart of MidLothian, now become totally impassable (75). Of course the Tolbooth prison, the heart of Heart s title, is itself a famous ly empty site. 13Rather than mater ial for authentic reporting or recording, what Melrose and its crumbling abbey furnish for Scott are associations of a fanciful nature and, significantly, a splendid theatre for any tragic incident ( The Monastery 12, my emphasis). The term is aptly ch osen, and 12 H. U. Tighe wrote in 1821, the year of Kenilworth s first appearance: A heap of stones, and the foundations, now scarcely discernible, are all that remain of th at venerable structure. The mansion had been demolished in 1810 (Alexander 413). The main extant structure of Kenilworth Kenilworth Castle itself I discuss further below. 13 David Bro wn resists this idea when it comes to historical facts, emphasizing that Scott tries to illuminate the past, not to use the cover of darkness for romantic fiction in the Keatsian fashion (176). Scotts own narrative personae suggest the opposite is true, as when Jonathan Oldbuck jokes about the author having the wit, like some of ourselves, to lay the scene in such a remote or distant country that nobody should be able to back speer [cross examine] him ( Betrothed xxii).
60 should inform any discussion of scene in Scott for Waverley space is nothing if not theatrical, and in its theatricality we can find some reconciliation between the authentic and the fictional, the recorded and the invented. Henri Lefebvres dis cussion of theatrical space (in The Production of Space ) with its interplay between fictitious and real counterparts and its interaction between gazes and mirages in which actor, audience, characters, text and author all come together but never become one (188), tallies well with some of the most forceful o r crystalline Waverley novel scenes (like the pass of peril). Theatrical space is one of contradiction and overlap for Lefebvre, where his tripartite categories become compromised and illusory: To the question of whether such a space is a representation of space or a representational space, the answer must be neither and both. Theatrical space certainly implies a representation of space scenic spacecorresponding to a particular conception of space (that of the classical drama, say or the Elizabethan, or the Italian). (188, original emphasis) This space of interaction implies an overlap of lived spacethe real space of life, corresponding to physical space and conceived spacespace that has been intellectually worked out, the space of ideas and plans (38 39). Characters in a drama pass from a real, immediately experienced space (the pit, the stage) to a perceived space, at once fictitious and real (188). Looking for the conceived space in Scott the landscape which is a representation of rath er than representationalmeans granting Scott the power to be rhetorical and deliberate in his depiction of space. It means allowing his glens and abbeys to be scooped out and carefully ruined (in E. M. Forsters famously deprecatory phrase) without fa ulting the alterations. But these spaces are nevertheless derived from history or from fact; they do correspond to lived space, either personally observed or mediated by the various bookish sources James Reed repudiates. The casual shifting or interplay between these types of space in the typical
61 Waverley scene implies a third space at once fictitious and real, i.e. a theatrical space. Within it, the authenticity of the lived space is mirage, a backdrop that may be manipulated. The scenery can be bo th accurate and a prop. Much the same idea is expressed by Lukacs, but with reference to historical dramas rather than novels. Lukacs stresses importance of the environment in epic literature both the surrounding world and the built environment, pointing to the enormous part played by the physical being of men, by the natural world surrounding them, by the things which form their environment etc (132). In the drama the atmosphere is much more spiritual, meaning that the social moral features of indiv iduals are conveyed by dialogue while the environment becomes a background only, emphasizing the preconditions leading to social collision (conflict, usually social for Lukacs) (132). The novel is closer to life than the drama, but does not purport to re produce life exactly. Like the drama it too must concentrate forces and ideas into individual, tangible characters and events (138 139) If the drama or the novel are to evoke a totality then some form of artistic concentration is again necessary (139). Lukacs certainly does not speak of dramatic or stage scenery particularly, but he is acknowledging a flexible space capable of being compressed or stretched, without being invalidated or inauthentic. He distinguishes between epic and dramatic time claiming that the one may compress a long stretch within a few words, while the other must play out as it would in reality (132). But between these real time acts or scenes the dramatist may insert whatever intervening period he likes (133), thus all owing for a drama to compress the action of many years into the space of a short stage piece (like Shakespeares history plays). Weve come to expect a historical novel to play with time that is, with history to meaningfully compress or expand events, to r earrange events chronologically for effect, and so forth. But it is not generally
62 granted that space operates much the same way in the genre. Often the artful flexibility of the scene and its arrangements (Lukacs might say its plasticity) invokes the dra ma, with its deliberately selected, cunningly emphasized backdrops and stage props. Even within the wildest scenery, far from any inorganic elements that might identify actual places, Scotts diction cues our recognition of theatrical scenery: the splend id theatre of The Monastery the sylvan amphitheatre of Ivanhoe and Waverley and numerous other novels. His attention to framing scenes, so often seen as a painterly effect, also participates in this staginess, as does his pocketing of the scenery with such a variety of entrances and exits: trapdoors or hollows contrived to conceal characters. Perhaps most of all, however, it is the sudden shifting of features from natural to artificial, from organic to designed, that makes us aware of theatrical space in Scott. During such moments we can see the stage, the backdrop, the curtain in Scott: we can see the steps shrouded in fake brush, the architectural framework from which the stage flora and fauna are suspended. This shifting takes place in Waverley as r eadily as in Ivanhoe in authentic Scots scenery as quickly as in Robin Hoods Sherwood, or Corrie nan shian. Around Donald Bean Leans cave, Edward Waverley is constantly noting the overlap between scenic features that must be natural, yet which seem to have a fortuitous design. Entering the cave, amid the glaring red stage lighting of the burning beacon and accompanied by the operatic recitative of Gaelic song, Waverley notes the rising ledges of rock ascending from the water, so easy and regular tha t they might be termed natural steps (79). By daylight, the stage lighting extinguished, he cannot tell whether the path to the cave is natural, or roughly hewn in the rock; he descends more natural steps, making use of them as a staircase (82 83). He soon finds himself at the breakfast table with Alice and Evan: as stagy a scene as any to be
63 found in Waverley, except perhaps Floras song in the sylvan amphitheatre of Chapter Twenty Two (105). Ivanhoe s sylvan amphitheatre is centered on an aged oak, one of many such in the Merry England of the novel, and is the location for revelations between two of the novels legendary characters, Robin Hood and Richard Lionheart. Robin Hood boldly claims the surroundings as his own, and declares his own ki ngship to the King of England: in these glades I am monarch they are my kingdom (272). Accordingly, Robin seats himself on an obliging bit of scenery, a throne of turf erected under the twisted branches of the huge oak (272). In The Monastery Halbert Glendennings encounter with the White Lady takes place in an underground cavern steeped in stagecraft. Here Halbert is entrusted with the bible that has caused so much trouble among Glendeargs residents, the occasion of many threats and warnings from the monastic brothers. Fittingly, the bible lies within a mystic flame on an altar of alabaster, which formed the central point of the grotto, which was of a round form, and very high in the roof, resembling in some respects the dome of a cathedral (112). The natural cavern is even cross shaped, with four long galleries, or arcades stretching out into the darkness corresponding to the four points of the compass (112). Such moments in Scott are legion; their theatrical tableau quality may be that mo st imitated by his successors in the form.14 14 For instance, this performative and framed moment from G. P. R. James Forest Days (1843): Whether planted by accide nt or design I know not, six old oaks came forward from the rest of the wood, three on either hand, at the distance of about forty feet apart, forming a sort of n atural avenue. under this natural canopy was spread out the long table (1:171). Here nature and history, accident and design, complement each other, forming not so much a painted backdrop as a living one, like an ornamental garden. The ambiguity between natural scenery and artificial or architectural structures creates many effects, reveals many influences. In many places it indeed serves a general picturesque or Romantic aesthetic, reminis cent of Dores nature scenes where trees and fauna form arches over the human figures. In others the effect sought is more obviously
64 a dramatic one, intentionally evoking stage trappings, like the two scenes from Waverley cited above. In still others where the attention is on ruins, the natural/architectural shifting participates in an investigation of historical knowledge: it becomes one of Scotts tools for picturing and criticizing the processes of history. I will further examine this particular use of r uin scenery in the next chapter, but the point Id like to establish now is that the theatrical nature of Waverley space, its power of being at once fictitious and real, grants Scott the ability to encode or embed different layers of meaning into the scene. As such it does more than just evoke another generic category for Scott: it implies a stage where many categories, the generic palimpsest itself, can be played out for the reader, thus engaging in Morettis rhetoric of contrasts. The idea is expressed with extraordinary clarity, yet disarming playfulness in St. Ronans Well (1823). Scotts only novel set in his own time has had the misfortune of being considered a disastrously illconceived imitation of Jane Austen, but it actually shows little attempt at reproducing the drama of ordinary commonplace things Scott so admired in Austen, Edgeworth, and Susan Ferrier. If anything its Dickensian, anticipating Pickwick in its gathering together a variety of loud type characters into social spaces. A lthough set in Scottish Border locations and set in his own day thus affording a perfect opportunity for journalistic recordingit shows little interest in landscape or architecture. It does, however, contain an informative juxtaposition of palimpsest na rrative and outdoor/theatrical space in Chapter Twenty, when its eccentric characters gather for theatricals in an ornamental garden. The old fashioned hedges and walks must necessarily serve for stage and scenery, says Scott, who recalls warmly in a footnote the open air theatrics he has witnessed at Kilruddery: It has a wild and romantic effect, reminding one of the scene in which Bottom rehearsed his pageant, with a green plot for a stage, and a hawthorn brake for a tiring room (263).
65 The pa tchwork performance that takes place is itself a literary palimpsest, hurriedly composed from scraps scrounged from the pages of various dramas (it now only remained to rummage the circulating library), the focus not so much on narrative as familiar tabl eaux with performers properly dressed for the occasion, as representing some well known historical or dramatic characters, in a group, having reference to history, or to a scene of the drama (264 265). Eventually A Midsummer Nights Dream is selected, b ut only because it affords the greatest variety of characters, and most scope of course for the intended representation (265 266). Costuming only muddles this ramshackle performance more, as muslin trousers and a turban are used to convey Oberon, and a uniformed Scots captain stands in for an Ancient Greek on the authority of Childe Harold, who remarks the similarity between the Highland and Grecian costume (266 267). For this high spirited, largely impromptu performance, Waverley space does what it alw ays does: arrange itself to accommodate the drama. The bit of wilderness chosen as the stage most proper for the exhibition of the intended dramatic picture accords with most Waverley space in its fortuitous architectural qualities (as Scott puts it, it afforded many facilities) (274). A rising bank exactly in front lends itself to theatre style seating, while the covered trellis and its private door seemed as if it had been planted on purpose for the proposed exhibition, as it served to give the per sonages of the a drama a convenient and secret access from dressing room to stage (274). Encouraged by the grounds facilities, the performers lengthen and enliven the performance, staging several scenes selected and arranged from different parts of the drama; thus giving some duration, as well as some variety besides the advantage of separating and contrasting the tragic and comic scenes (274).
66 The performance, a hodge podge adapted from drama and other sources, thus blends with, complements, and is complemented by the scenery, the focus of both being on novelty, variety, and pleasing contrast: there was also a singular and pleasing contrast between the fantastic figures who wandered through the gardens, and the quiet scene itself, to which the old clipt hedges, the formal distribution of the ground, and the antiquated appearance of one or two fountains and artificial cascades, gave an appearance of unusual simplicity and seclusion, and which seemed rather to belong to the last than to the present generation. (284) Scott reaches back to the eighteenth century in the spaces around the drama, although here characterized as formal and simple, whereas what is old in Scotts narratives what Raymond Williams might call its residual narrative strain tends to be reckless and complicated, after the manner of Gothic or picaresque. But there are other signs that St. Ronans Well s theatricals should be taken as the play within the play, the textual mirror of the Waverley series itself. The narrators sly hint that the performances spontaneity and good will has been an advantage (which rendered the masquerade more entertaining than others of the kind for which more ample and magnificent preparations have been made) recalls Scotts persistent co nviction that his own best literary work was executed quickly and without a plan (284). The spectators spell breaking comments on the drama as it unfolds, their misunderstanding of the representations and prosaic focus on the costumes, recall not only Scotts earthy comic relief characters but also some of the series garrulous pseudoeditors. And in Gow the fiddlers opening of the performance, its hard not to see Scott dropping a clever hint about his own authorship of the Waverley series: And when he changed his strain to an adagio, and suffered his music to die away in the plaintive notes of Roslin Castle, the echoes of the old walls were, after a long slumber, awakened by that enthusiastic burst of applause, with which the Scots usually received and rewarded their countrys gifted minstrel. (275) This, less than 20 years after Scott had achieved fame with The Lay of the Last Minstrel
67 Violent Divisions: Scott Country and the Critics Scott is a novelist over whom we shall violently divide. E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel Forsters familiar antiScott harangue has maintained unfortunate currency with critics, especially considering its very particularly Modern and New Critical context and the facetiousness with which it was delivered; as A. N. Wilson notes, it was a speech full of cheap jokes designed to get a laugh out of his Cambridge audience (72). In one respect, however, Forsters comments have proven oddly prophetic: Scott remains a novelist that divides critical approaches. When it comes to accounting for the signif icance of Scott countryusually meant as certain areas of Scotland, but for my purposes, Waverley space generally the majority of critics have not been so much divided as curiously silent. Even the most influential critiques of the novels rarely explore the poetics of the famous landscapes or their narratological significance. Scott is understood to be participating in the Romantic eras enthusiasm for sublime and moody landscapes and this participation is taken for what its worth to the individual criti c. But when they have paid particular notice to the landscapes, critics and commentators have found themselves at odds. It is in many ways the typical critical procedure with Scott, and strangely confirms yet again Forsters opening salvo. Before continuing my characterization of Waverley space in the next chapter, its worth considering briefly how a few thinkers have thought about Waverley space, since their disagreements indicate (at the very least) that questions of genre and epistemology are at stake he re. To some degree the very effectiveness of Scotts landscape description must have led to its dismissal as mere picturesque effect or Romantic mood setting decoration; often self consciously pictorial, the descriptive sequences lend themselves well to constructions of Scott as superficial, phony, and over concerned with appearances and effects, the Scott who approached his
68 characters from the outside (Allen 129) because he lacked psychological depth. These associations with fads and excesses may h ave served to discourage critical attention to the Waverley landscape as Scott criticism grew more attentive to realistic modes and the socio political content of the novels. Georg Lukacs championing of Scott in The Historical Novel (1937) makes clear that he did not see Scott as a phony, nor his work as lacking depth, but regarding the landscapes Lukacs is conspicuously silent. Presuming them to be part of the picturesque description which he felt had been mistaken to be the essence of [Scotts] art ( 41), Lukacs acknowledges Scotts fondness for such description but does not elaborate. Its regrettable that he does not, since Scotts novels have commonly been divided, classified, and assessed according to their locales either Scotland or nonScotland and although Lukacs does not invent this distinction he certainly upholds it, drawing the majority of his examples from the Scottish novels. Further, Lukacs clearly conceives of history and historical acumen in terms of spectators and landscapes in several places in The Historical Novel, placing worthwhile practitioners of the form on summits, alleging they are in a position to see real popular history, characterizing their achievement as portraying the sunset of heroic revolutionary ideals (333, 344, original emphasis). Lukacs figures historical dialectic or its absence topographically, as when he cites that history post 1848 has no direction, no summits, and no depressions (176). Clearly one of Lukacs own persistent metaphors for history is landsc ape, making his reluctance to examine the Waverley landscape especially unfortunate. Many of Scotts later critics have followed Lukacs either in underemphasizing Waverley spaces or, more rarely, incorporating them into an understanding of Scott that diminishes his association with Romanticism and its favorite modes. James Reeds Sir Walter Scott: Landscape and Locality (1980) is one of the most significant attempts post Lukacs to foreground the
69 Waverley landscapes, but takes it as given that Scotts best g ifts are primarily realistic or even journalistic, claiming that Scotts prime advantage lay in his dealing with living history (20). Reeds study focuses on the landscapes that Lukacs had ignored, but in a way that dovetails with Lukacs prioritization of Scotts gifts. Like the authentic dialogue and convincing worldmaintaining peasantry, Reed posits the Scott landscape as a contextual aid for the events and characters, a continuum apart from which his most convincing, most enduring characters are sim ply not conceivable (50). Reed again means the Scottish characters, the Scottish landscapes; he emphasizes the superiority of the Scottish over the chivalry novels throughout his study, pointing to (among other things) the observed detail, the truthfulnes s, the genuineness of the landscape. In his opposition between Scott recording and inventing, its easy to see how Reed seeks to connect the Waverley landscape with other realistic or antiromantic components increasingly valued in the novels and to s eparate them from being part of superficial fictional gloss. Although Reeds reading of Scott appreciates his folkloristic and Romantic elements, it still has the effect of excluding from focus the majority of Scotts work as I argued in the Chapter One it is the sort of conventional wisdom that has had restrictive and diminishing consequences for both Scotts work and the genre. In some ways Reeds study is a welcome leap forward, a way to reconcile the famous Waverley landscapes with dominant critical opinions about Scott and include them in the conversation. But it comes at a double cost: first, of excluding the nonScottish spaces once again, and second, of diminishing the metaphoric and symbolic roles played by the Waverley spaces generally. Reeds is a reading that links Waverley spaces with Scott the historian and neglects their connections with Scott the poet; its the sort of
70 contradictory tension that has always characterized commentary about the historical novel, Manzonis impossible genre, a nd Scott in particular. So, for example, while Reed finds Scott celebrating Scottish locality through the authenticity of the landscapes, Saree Makdisi finds him appropriating Scottish territory in Waverleys fluid and imaginary Scottish landscapes (76, 84, 88). Makdisi is not timid about recognizing Scotts manipulation of the Scottish landscape he particularly refutes Reeds idea that Scott is recording and not inventing the scene, claiming that Edward Waverleys Scottish adventure is indeed an imaginary tour of the highlands (8485). For Makdisi this creative alteration of the landscape in Waverley is pernicious, an act that makes the narrator complicit in the destructive forces of British imperialism. For David Brown, on the other hand, such c omplicity is almost a moot point, since he isolates the narrator from most imaginary landscape alteration by separating Edward Waverleys romantic English responses and romantic interest in the scenic from Scotts own naturalistic depiction (10, 2526).15The spatiality of these contradictory views is worth noting. For Brown realistic depiction is the norm for Scott the symbolic or analytic descriptive moment is an anomaly. For Makdisi symbolic, unrealistic or fluid landscape description is the norm, when Scott is describing Scotland For Reed it is the norm when Scott is describing any place other than Scotland. Clearly, Scott is a novelist over whom we shall violently divide. To see another critical clash that looks remarkably like this over Sco tt and landscape, one need look no further than the longstanding debate about Scott and genre no coincidence, if space and genre in the Waverley Novels are inextricably bound. Many persistent Scott truisms 15 Alistair Duc kworth confirms this idea less explicitly when he notes that Edward Waverleys memory selects certain attractively romantic elements within scenes and suppresses harsh realities, a sign of his immaturity ( Landscape 115).
71 are in effect negative statements, faulting his no vels for not meeting certain guidelines or standards; that they seem to be confirmed by a diverse spectrum of commentators suggests they are true statements. But if critics fault Scott with many of the same defects, their assumptions about what Scott was a ttempting, how or whether he succeeded, his view of history, his relation to the novel and to genre are utterly contradictory. So Twains charge that Scott fostered sham chivalries and silly romantic sentimentality collides hard with Lukacs praise for h is affinity with the laborers and criticism of the ruling classes and renunciation [and] conquest of Romanticism (33). Lukacs appreciation of his concrete historicism does not tally well with Forsters arbitrary tale twister profiting by narrative ragge d ends. Walter Allens declaration that Scott is an antiromantic sturdy humorist (134) reverses Twains idea that Scott restored all the medieval chivalry silliness that Don Quixote had done away with ( Life 251), and so on. For Twain, Scott is a fairy tale romancer; for Forster, a folklorist; for Lukacs, a historianartist; for Allen, a humorist. Each seems to agree with the other about ways Scott failed, but no two agree about what he should have been attempting. Rarely has an important novelist been s o claimed, or disclaimed, by so many different sides. Practically all of these claims can be verified by some feature or other of the twenty odd Waverley Novels and, what may be more important, may just as rapidly be turned to positive or negative ends ac cording to the agenda of the particular critic. Because they seem to offer a bit of everything, a bit of everything can be said about them, and has been. Engaged in Morettis rhetoric of contrasts, the Waverley Novels lend themselves to univocal readings because their complexity is unobtrusive (Shaw 159). Consequently, lines get drawn in the sand by critics, and oppositions are set upabout landscape, certainly, but also about genre, accuracy, authenticity, seriousness, historical knowledge, moral knowled ge, metaphysical knowledge which may
72 serve well to describe a particular novel, but work less effectively within the broader context of Waverley Novels a group increasingly being understood as an internally consistent system (Robertson 132). At the very least, the Waverley landscape is important enough to feature in a critical estimation of Scott and the historical novel that captures as much of his diversity as possible (Shaw 159); at most, the shifting, uncertain, multi purposeful landscape is a dire ct index or reflection of this diversity. Its polyphonic effects and varying modes echo the many voices and points of view in the novels, recalling both the landscapes and the narratives of medieval romance where nothing is subordinated (Beer 20). Furthe r, the inconstancy of the landscape remains one of the only constants in the Waverley Novels The place may be Scotland, England, France, Turkey, Palestine, or India. The time may be sixty or six hundred years since. But the poetic qualities of the landsca pe scene, and its ability and propensity to symbolize, reflect and argue a variety of ideas, remain consistent.
73 CHAPTER 3 (MIS)READING THE PAL IMPSEST: R EADERS OF WAVERLEY S PACE The historical novel has always been rooted in paradox. If as a genre it is given shape by real world events more self consciously than other novels, it also tends to create its own world self consciously, and sometimes even to withdraw into it with nostalgic indulgence. One of the genres least intuitive paradoxes remains, then, that these narratives based on historical fact lend themselves readily to fantasy and escapism. As I stated in Chapter One there is more give, not less, in the boundaries and limits of their fictional worlds. The forms primary purpose of transporting the reader into a felt past depends on rendering that past in recognizable terms hence the paradoxical presence of necessary anachronism as pointed out by Lukacs, the careful updating of certain elements within the historical picture so that the re ader can comprehend the action. Lukacs contends, as did Scott himself, the inflexible use of authentic historical details, far from bolstering the authenticity of the story, is certain to destroy any illusion of reality whatsoever.1Yet it has not been, simply, that fictional elements have been employed to lend a reality effect to historical fact, but that elements from many styles, genres, and fields of knowledge have been combined to create and amplify a variety of effects, including unreality. The gathering of materials from all walks of knowledge and types of writing both restores and invents the past for the reader; it comprehends and improves the past, aesthetically and rationally. As Judith Wilt has noted, the Waverley mine of history is always a salted mine, where It is the fictional details which evoke Barthe s reality effect in historical narrative: the seemingly unimportant sensory perceptions and imagined conversations that nevertheless put the reader there, in the historical moment. 1 Sainte Beuve chides Flaubert i n this respect, falling back on the old resurrection metaphor: One can reconstruct antiquity, but one cannot bring it back to life (qtd in Lukacs 187).
74 historical (arti)facts are artfully, sometimes artificially deposited ( Secret Leaves 155156). The sampling of genres is a sampling of knowledge ways and means, articulating the past both in its particulars and in its universal character. Its how the historical novel became the all purpose variety show of a novel form Moretti describes, and also why Scott and the Victorian historical novelists who followed him built splendid theatres from the spaces in their novels: authentic yet unreal, spaces in which to enact the past. Not only anachronism but also a very deliberately planned artificiality is necessary. This chapter builds upon the generically and spatially diverse spaces of the historical novel I descr ibed in the first chapter by postulating both the readers of these spaces and the kinds of knowledge they may reliably gather from them. With a few remarkable exceptions, Scotts readers of space are divided between young men struggling to make sense of the spaces around them (and hence of life, or love, or their own characters) and marginalized, almost supernatural characters of both sexes who are mysteriously in tune with both space and knowledge. I will argue here that the readers of Waverley space, both the frustrated misreader and the unreal but ideal elemental reader, confirm that it is the space of paradox and palimpsest: a space whose epistemological valence exceeds and confounds all conventional methods of understanding it. In the readers of Waver ley space we can see both the warp of reality and woof of unreality, together weaving a paradoxical world text that defies any single method to comprehend it. In the previous chapter I described some of the common practices Scott uses in his descriptions of space, focusing particularly on two general traits: the encoding of generic ideas into space, and the implications of unstable historical novel space for dynamics of authenticity and locality. Both are alike in emphasizing flexibility and the permeabilit y of boundaries: neither types of narrative nor of space are fixed in Scott but may transmute, gradually or suddenly. As
75 genres and styles of narrative are cycled through, so are spaces that are generically conscious or ambient sometimes appropriate, somet imes opposed to the narratives they foreground. If historical novel space is therefore a text itself or behaves like one, if it is how the genre figures or images narratives, the next logical question to consider is that of its reader. Who makes up the for egrounded readership of the text of space, and what informs the connection between them and the spaces they both read/interpret and inhabit? Thinking about the reader leads us to think about the highly figurative, often stylized character of historical novel space: that it is a deliberate technical space, where ideas are worked out. The shifting between categories of story and scene that takes place in Scott should therefore draw our attention to categories of knowledge: historical novel space is uncerta in space epistemologically What is being sifted, challenged, opposed and interrogated in the historical novels narrative is knowledge and ways of knowing. Perhaps the specifics of a historical time and place are weighed against universal human nature; or religious insight opposes secular humanism (or perhaps, one type of religious knowledge opposes another); or, formal education contests with folk wisdom; or, the instincts of one race, nation or culture are pitted against another like the conflict betwee n Saxon/English stubbornness and Norman/French delicacy that defines much of Ivanhoe At the very least, knowledge then opposes knowledge now with hindsight giving the author and reader a superior, at times ironic perspective. The epistemological gras p sought in the historical novel is so wide, the variety of truths so disparate, that shifting between categories is inevitable; the paradoxes of representation such shifting produces play out in the genres spaces. Because it needs to construct an imagined historical space, the historical novel positively depends on this wide borrowing and incorporation of materials from other genres. Lukacs
76 particularly emphasized the need for historical novels to bring the past before us plastically, so that we should not regard its psychology and ethics as historical novelties but as phases of development which should concern us (42). Yet even allowing for other historical visions less process oriented than Lukac s the implication works: the past is best resurrected vi a inauthentic (nonhistorical) or artificial means. Frequently these means are dramatic, legendary, or even mythic. The historical novelist taps into alternative methods of representation and alternative means of knowing to create a cohesive, rhetorical an d multifaceted (to say nothing of aesthetically pleasing) version of the past for the reader. So, for instance, while the British historical novelist cannot reproduce the actual language of medieval England comprehensibly, he may imitate the language of dr ama, of Shakespeares medieval characters, and evoke an older, heightened style of dialogue that feels like the Middle Ages, though obviously inauthentic. Scott does precisely this in Ivanhoe thus causing twelfth century characters to speak sixteenth cent ury dramatic dialogue, for the benefit of nineteenth century readers.2 2 But the same motive which prevents my writing the dialogue of the piece in Anglo Saxon or NormanF rench, prevents my attempting to confine myself within the limits of the period in which my story is laid. It is necessary, for exciting interest of any kind, that the subject assumed should be, as it were, translated into the manners as well as the language of the age we live in (Dedicatory Epistle, Ivanhoe 9). While in no way authentic, the dialogue sounds and feels antiquated and Othered to the reader surely the reason medieval knights and ladies have been speaking in this anachronistic fash ion in hundreds of historical novels and period films ever since. Do not mistake me, sir, says the mysterious Benedictine in The Monastery s introduction, immediately salting the mine: I did not mean to say the Memoirs were written in the sixteenth cent ury, but only that they were compiled from authentic materials of that period, but written in the taste and language of the present day (28). Lukacs allows this sort of adaptive power to historical drama, which he maintains possesses a greater possibility for necessary anachronism than does the novel
77 (151), but Scotts novels and those of his successors are drenched in literary artifice of this kind: it is the stuff the palimpsest is made of. By citing old poetry, singing old ballads, and telling old ghost stories, they allowed the past (or a sense of the past) to resonate through the their new fictional productions, imbuing them with an age that is more felt intuitively than known intellectually. Ideally, the historical novelists task is filling voids cre atively, building fictions upon the foundations, frames and ramparts of recorded history. The restoration of such crumbling remnants are most often accomplished in the spirit of the past like the self conscious Gothic ism of Londons Houses of Parliament, which Kenneth Clarke called a Waverley Novel in stone (qtd in Wilson, 150). Avrom Fleishmans analogy of the historical novelist restoring a damaged tapestry, weaving whole scenes or figures to fill the empty spaces which a more austere museum curator [i.e. the historian] might leave bare (6 7), is an excellent paradigm to bear in mind,. The tapestry weaver inserts on the basis of sympathy, experience, and esthetic propriety, [lending] revived expressiveness and coherence to the tapestry (7). If true for the tapestry of narrative, true also for the tapestry of space in the historical novel. I have endeavored in my first chapter to show something of Walter Scotts own tapestry weaving, and to demonstrate how his creative filling of voids or blending of ideas is reflected by the spaces in his novels. Scotts historical fiction amuses itself (and the amused note is always palpable) by subtly filling in the narrative spaces between the seemingly distinct poles of historical and fictional genres teasing fic tion out of allegedly historical accounts, handing over characterization duties to fragments of verse, superimposing different frames of reference over the same actions and ideas until no distinct boundary lines are visible. Well aware of the aesthetic com plexity of effect he was courting, Scott also understood the fittingness of using
78 conflated and confused narrative methods to relate historical accounts. This awareness is evinced by the numerous mangled histories he places in the mouths of his characters, like Maurice De Bracys rumination on the Biblical tribe of Benjamin, in Ivanhoe : [Prior Aymer] told how, long since in Palestine, a deadly feud arose between the clan of Benjamin and the rest of the Israelitish nation; and how they cut to pieces well nig h all the chivalry of that clan; and how they swore by our Blessed Lady that they would not permit those who remained to marry in their lineage; and how they became grieved for their vow, and sent to consult his holiness the Pope how they might be absolved from it; and how, by the advice of the Holy Father, the youth of the tribe of Benjamin carried off from a superb tournament all the ladies who were there present . (135136) De Bracy, a twelfth century Christian knight, here conflates Hebrew scripture with Livys account of the Sabine women and updates the entire story to a Medieval European context (Tulloch 444). This sort of absurd misremembering and the playful lack of confidence in the historical record it implies characterize knowledge in the Wa verley Novels informing their uninhibited employment of devices and styles from other genres.3Maurice De Bracys patchwork conflation of history, scripture, legend and contemporary circumstance could be thought of as the narrative equivalent of the Waverley scene at its most No particular method of retrieving and interpreting knowledge (especially of the past) is ever completely trustworthy, nor is any specific means of knowledge ga thering ever granted preeminence in Scott a point which The Antiquary (1816), Scotts own favorite of his novels, makes especially clear. Consequently, no single narrator, narrative form, metaphorical device, or category of representation can recreate the world of the past, can resurrect its splendors or its horrors meaningfully for the reader. The best that can be hoped for is fragments and scraps disjointed pieces of verse, song, legend, tale, which the speculative historian may (or may not) be able to re assemble, but from which the uncertain past may be artfully arranged, intuited and felt. 3 Scott tips his hand with Fitzurses reply: I have heard the story, though either the Prior or thou hast made some singular alterations in date and circumstance (136).
79 symbolically charged. Composed of various kinds of truth, it is neverthele ss palpably false even comically artificial. Scotts characters, so often young men just setting out in life, encounter such complexes and clusters of ideas in the scene: encounters which call attention to and challenge their powers of discernment. One of the dramas most often enacted, then, in the Waverley scene is reading and misreading space. Everywhere in Scott we find characters drawing mistaken conclusions from the landscape, muddling knowledge as De Bracy muddles historical narrative; there are also characters who seem somehow mysteriously in touch with the landscape. Knowing the landscape learning to read and navigate it, and the epistemological problem of those who seem to know it instinctively thus becomes bound up with the Waverley Novels interro gation of different kinds of knowledge and modes of truth. Reading Males, Leading Males: Waverley Space and the Hero With the text of space bearing so much significance in Scott, small wonder that he focuses so much on its readers: typically young men o f a lesser noble or gentrified class, trying to make or mend their fortunes. In short, the reader of space is most often a qualified version of Lukacs wavering hero, the young man groping his way between causes, cultures, and points of view, thus enabli ng the reader to understand the different currents (or the thesis and antithesis) of historical conflicts. I maintain the caveat because, while Lukacs middle of the road hero does not appear in the majority of Waverley Novels the young aristocrat either reading or misreading space does.4 4 Lukacs idea of the Scott hero works very well to characterize the protagonists of Waverley, Rob Roy, Old Mortality and a few other of the novels. But the model works less well for those stauncher protagonists who remain committed to a cause and point of view thr oughout: these are most often chivalric heroes (like Wilfred of Ivanhoe ) but may also be from more recent periods, like The Bride of Lammermoor s Edgar Ravenswood or Guy Mannerings Harry Bertram. Scotts alternative method for depicting different sides of a conflict is to follow two such committed, yet opposing protagonists, like the Catholic/Protestant Glendenning brothers in The Monastery
80 The space being read may be the landscape in particular, but may also be the cityscape or the horizon generally: the weather and seasons, the stars. Occasionally readers of space are actually astrologers, looking to the heavens for keys to future actions Invariably scoffed at by the narrator, such readings may be validated by the novels unfolding events (as in Guy Mannering) or shown to be exceedingly clever frauds (as in Quentin Durward and Kenilworth ). Scotts readers echo his broader conviction about reading space: that it always involves interpreting, but also implies the ability to negotiate or navigate space to make use of knowledge gained to travel through the landscape (or, in the case of astrological predictions, the future). Accordingly, reade rs and misreaders of Waverley space are often military men: commanders scoping out good ground for battle or reconnoitering for the enemy. This is always a perilous exercise, as the very pocketed, dramatic nature of the landscape also serves to conceal arm ies and ambushes.5 Perhaps the best remembered of such scenes is Captain Thorntons poor reconnaissance in Chapter 30 of Rob Roy. As Thorntons illfated group of soldiers approach Helen Macgregor s hidden Highland soldiers later in the chapter, the landsc ape itself functions as a sort of harbinger of real and imagined dangers; it is a place where Man alone seemed to be placed in a state of inferiority, in a scene where all the ordinary features of nature were raised and exalted (278). The consequence of Thorntons inability to find meaning in this strangely complicit landscape is death for himself and his squad. 6 5 Uvedale Price characterizes a pictu resque landscape as arousing curiosity in the viewer both about what might have happened there (the scenes historical background) and also what might be contained there (the hidden pockets, passageways, and enclosures concealed by the landscape) (356) The Scott landscape therefore takes part in traditional notions of the picturesque, but also serves dramatic and narrative purposes. 6 Since many of the historical events Scott references feature disastrous misreadings of landscapelike the Battle of Cu lloden we can assume he understood the immense consequences of interpreting and adapting correctly.
81 Thorntons misreading underlines the gender significance of landscape reading for the Waverley Novels a gendering pattern that gets incorpor ated into the historical novel matrix generally namely, that successful landscape reading is a masculine rite and responsibility, particularly when the reading male is also a leading male. Navigating a treacherous forest, surviving the wild landscape, finding meaning in the crumbling ruin, foreseeing the conclusion of a battle in the layout of groundall become moments of reading associated with the male heroes of historical novels, whether the knights of Scotts chivalry tales or the boy adventurers of G. A. Henty and Stevenson. That the British historical novel narrative is in general a proving ground for males, a generic space where masculine values are inscribed, rehearsed, and measured, is of course a familiar notion to readers and critics. The confiden ce with which Scotts novels were recommended as novels not merely inoffensive but proactively healthy and wholesome, especially for boys, bears out their preoccupations with gender roles and responsibilities.7 But Scott himself volunteers this concern in various places as well, as in the Abbotsford Introduction to The Fortunes of Nigel a novel he claims is about contrasting types of male character.8 7 There are no such books as [Scotts] for the sick room, or freshening the painful intervals of a morbid mind (Bagehot, The Waverley Novels 66). Bagehot also notes the peculiar healthiness which distinguishes [Scott]: over all [his subjects] he has spread the glow of sentiment natural to a manly mind, and an atmosphere of generosity congenial to a cheerful one (46, 66). The genres perceived healthi ness and its predilection for weighing and sorting masculinities are a major reason for its enthusiastic adoption by juvenile fiction, by the end of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. No accident that collectors of vintage historical novel s so often school prize labels in the flyleaf. What has been less observed is the extent to which masculine virtues or their lack are revealed and tested by interaction with the landscapes in Scott. 8 The instruction of two noblemen will allow Scott to examine the aristocratic haughtiness of the time of James I, and the prevailing tone of selfish luxury which seems more peculiar to ours, as well as th e seductions of pleasure which are predominant to all (xx). Scott cites his source material, Terences Adelphi to illustrate further: In this old play, two men of fortune, brothers, educate two young men, sons to the one and nephews to the other, each u nder his own system of rigour and indulgence (xxiv).
82 The ability to read meaning in the landscape rapidly becomes a test of mature male discernment in the historical novel, distinguishing Coopers American woodsman Natty Bumppo from the women (and British soldiers !) who depend on him, and informing a host of heroic characters whose superior ability to read the land allows them to conceal themselves from enemies (e.g. Ivanhoe s Robin Hood, Kenilworth s Wayland Smith, G. P. R. Jame s The Woodman). It is one set of skills that Jim Hawkins sets about learning on Treasure Island, whose acquisition is intrinsically bound up with his own developing masculinity. Reading the rural landscape, interpreting the built landscape, is the mark of a capable man, and a training ritua l for boys. The kind of text being read in space may change from novel to novel or even scene to scene, but the positing of a young male as a reader of the text remains a distinguishing feature of the historical novel narrative, one for which Scotts novel s provided the model. There are of course striking exceptions to this pattern. Part of the wonder implicit in Jeanie Deans 370 mile trip to Londonessentially a reversal of Waverleys journey north is that an unprotected woman has been able to negotiate s uch a perilous landscape. Rob Roy s Helen Macgregor and Die Vernon also evince great abilities to read the land and profit by their knowledge, abilities far in excess of the novels protagonist, Frank Osbaldistone. But Scotts women are most often led through threatening landscapes by men, providing various heroes with the performative opportunity to read and navigate the troubled palimpsest of space. Ivanhoe Kenilworth and Quentin Durward all devote significant portions of their narratives to males escor ting females through forests and by ways, a pattern that Fenimore Cooper was quick to imitate in his Leatherstocking Tales. The idea that the land tests and determines the male hero in the historical novel is to some degree intuitive, harking back to the genres sources in medieval romance. Scott himself self -
83 consciously sets up a gender division between types of novels generally between novels and romances, specifically between Austens new class of fictions with their meticulous knowledge of the domest ic sphere and the grandiose, overtly exotic and romantic style of his own works Scott makes this contrast the thematic center of his review of Emma and significantly, the metaphor he builds toward is spatial. Upon the whole, the turn of this authors novels bears the same relation to that of the sentimental and romantic cast, that cornfields and cottages and meadows bear to the highly adorned grounds of a show mansion, or the rugged sublimities of a mountain landscape. (421422) Scotts spatial idealization of the romance shows that he is, somewhat mischievously, referencing his own works as well, the big bow wow strain of the historical novel. It invokes both the upper classes (the show mansion) and romantic rural scenery (the rugged sublimities of a mountain landscape) familiar representative subjects in all of his novels, and certainly prominent in the only two published at the time of the review, Waverley and Guy Mannering. He also makes clear in these passages his assumption that men and women wr ite different types of novels and that their separate investigations of life and experience may be likened to landscape: the familiar, domesticated, agricultural landscape of Austens England (cornfields and cottages) and the sublime, eerie and epic grou nd of the romantic historical novel.9There are places within the Waverley landscape where masculine value itself, or at least some ideals of heroic or chivalric virtue, have been encoded into the text of space. As Waverleys 9 Walter Bagehot echoes this idea in his examination of The Waverley Novels in 1858, where he separates Scotts novels from the new ubiquitous novel that aims at describing the whole of human life in all its spheres, in all its aspects, with all its varied interests, aims, and objects (46 47). Bagehot finds that female novelists represent the ideal of ubiquitous fiction an irony, since Bagehot assumes that many aspects of life should be prohibi ted from any representation, and that womens limited encounter with the world would limit their experience even further. In part, the ubiquitous novelist can succeed in a domestic setting, Bagehot reasons, because domestic fiction can conceivably build a world small enough to be conceived in its totality. It can therefore successfully hold the readers attention to the relatively mundane events of its plot, the everyday love story foregrounded in the novel. The Waverley Novels, on the other hand, he sepa rates according to their romantic sensetheir roving eye, large canvas, and equal but fragmentary interest in everything. The hero and heroine walk among the trees of the forest according to rule, but we are expected to take an interest in the forest as well as them (48).
84 pass of peril scene brings to mind the mythological monsters of Mallory or Spenser, so these scenes evoke the legendary knight and the fabled courts of chivalry. More notably, the description of Kenilworth s Lidcote Hall and its grounds, the ancient and rapidly declining estate of the Robsart family, features a landscape where not only history but chivalric manhood are decaying before the readers eyes. Though the novel is set within Elizabethan times, the old house bears the marks of medieval concerns: surrounded by a moat, crossed by a drawbridge and defended by an octagonal tower, of ancient brickwork, but so clothed with ivy and other creepers that it was difficult to discover of what materials it was constructed (112). One of the houses towers ha s been fitted with a clock, but the clock was now standing still, as indeed time seems to have stopped within the house as well (112). The medievalism of Sir Hugh Robsart, usually called the old knight, is overdetermined by his habits and attendants; he is accompanied only by a squire of the body and an expert in heraldry, with whom he clucks sadly over changing times, new words and forgotten battles. Reflecting the decrepitude of Sir Hughs chivalric ideals is the interior space of the hall: a long low parlour, amply furnished with implements of the chase, and with sylvan trophies, by a massive stone chimney, over which hung a sword and suit of armour, somewhat obscured by neglect (114). Sir Hugh's declining health and spirits have been brought on by a moral crisis: he believes his daughter Amy has taken up with a petty courtier, Varney. Yet adding to his distress is his inability to name Amy according to the old moral code I were wrong to name broadly the base thing she has become there is some new court name for it, I warrant me (115). His disillusionment at Amys loss and at his inability to make sense of its significance in the new
85 court atmosphere lead him to project his longing, a wish for death and peace, onto the estate grounds: This gri ef is to my bewildered mind what the Church of Lidcote is to our south wood; we may lose ourselves among the briars and thickets, but from the end of each avenue we see the old grey steeple and the grave of my forefathers. I would I were to travel that roa d tomorrow. (116) Spaces like Lidcote Hall encode more than just history, though the problem of changing times is as evident in this scene as the stopped clock. They also reflect character in this case, a type of masculine character seemingly on the wane. Not merely the crumbling castle but also the rusted knight appears in this scene, in which an old knight wishes he could rescue a damsel who doesnt wish to be rescued. Such rhetorical spaces are in keeping with Scotts broader preoccupation with the fate of the aristocracy, particularly the aristocratic male, over eight centuries of European history the central theme that Avrom Fleishman points out as one of the few unifying features of the entire Waverley series. Scotts careful analysis of the idea of a gentleman over diverse historical periods, what Fleishman argues is his ulterior social motive in his choice of historical subjects, demands that he measure ideals of aristocratic and chivalric behavior against changing circumstances and environments, w hether these be the behavior of the historical aristocracy or of the natural aristocracy only partly overlapping it and marked by its innate intellectual and moral qualities (52). It makes sense, then, that Scott repeatedly loses his young male protagonists, gentlemen by birth or by behavior, within a diverse set of landscapes, and focuses on their ability or inability to adapt. It is in this type of scenario, more so than with overtly rhetorical scenes like Lidcote Hall, that Scott measures masculinities. Ive described Edward Waverleys attempts to determine his role in the narrative by referencing the landscape. Ive also suggested that his romanceaddled reading turns out to be
86 more accurate than is commonly supposed. Waverleys first trek throug h the Highlands does rouse something of a masculine competitive spirit in the young Englishman, as his plunge into a brook shewing he did not fear wetting his feet is done deliberately, with an eye to remov[ing] the opinion which Evan seemed to entertai n of the effeminacy of the Lowlanders (77). But in general he is led about, even carried about by others too often for his abilities to be tested; in this, as in other respects, there are few Scott heroes so wavering or weak as Waverley himself, who fig ures as more of a tourist or captive in the novels spaces than an explorer. Scotts second novel Guy Mannering, on the other hand, opens with its title character lost in the wilds of southwest Scotland and groping his way alone and in the dark, through an unknown country, as the light grew faint and more faint, and the morass appeared blacker and blacker (4). Similarities to Dantes and Bunyans pilgrims suggest themselves, and to the spiritual and emotional quagmires navigated by the questing knights of legend; as we have seen, The Talisman begins with much the same tone, though within an entirely different landscape topographically. Class as well as gender is interrogated in these scenes of lost nobles and gentlemen: Guy Mannering must ask directions from an old woman in a miserable hut and is led to safety by a twelve year old boy. Almost exactly the same scenario plays out in Chapter Nine of Kenilworth in which the gentrified Tressilian is led through the forest by the grotesque village boy, Di ckie Sludge. Ivanhoe begins with the Templar Knight Bois Guilbert and his retinue lost in the forest, reduced to asking directions from Gurth the swineherd and Wamba the jester; the latter plays on their unfamiliarity with the country and steers them wrong
87 Clearly, the peasantry know where they are; it is the gentle folk who seem repeatedly to have lost their bearings.10[Bois Guilbert and company] ride the forest arrogantly as owners, but they are easily misled and might die of the forests traps except that the disturbed thinker, whose Pilgrims hat hides his identity like his posture at the crossroads masked his character, knows how to guide them. ( Secret Leaves 38) Judith Wilt writes of this episode: The Pilgrim is, of course, Ivanhoe in disguise, both a n authentic and a landed aristocrat, but a disinherited one.11 Along with the novels Robin Hood, Wilt notes, both hooded men [are] familiar with the mystery of the forest (39). In this context, the fate of Edgar Ravenswood, the bitter and dispossessed lord of The Bride of Lammermoor seems especially significant: misreading the landscape leads to his drowning in quicksand at the novels end.12As much as any feat of riding or swordsmanship, Scotts male characters reading of and reckoning with the landscape distinguishes them as aristocrats, whether by blood or by virtue. That chivalric, manly values are historically tied up with the aristocracy yet are not confined to that class two of six claims Scott makes about the aristocracy, according to Avrom Fl eishman becomes a major claim of the Victorians, of course, present in various texts on gentlemanly behavior from Samuel Smiles to Matthew Arnold. 13 10 Compare with the familiar openings of Coopers Leatherstocking Tales, such as Last of the Mohicans and The Pathfinder where British subjects are misled by treacherous French allied Indians, and guided back onto the right trail by the apparently nationless, classless Natty Bumppo, the man without a cross. When I speak of chivalry I 11 Borne out by the motto on his shield, Desdichado, and its c oat of arms, which shows an oak tree torn out by its roots. 12 Ravenswood spends much of the novel at Wolfs Crag, a rhetorically significant locale which encodes his own desperation and emasculation. A solitary and naked tower, situated on a projecting c liff . On three sides the rock was precipitous; on the fourth, which was towards the land, it had been originally fenced by an artificial ditch and drawbridge, but the latter was broken down and ruinous (83). Fiona Robertson has noted the correspondence between the precariousness of the tower and the financial desperation of the Ravenswood family (Introduction xxi), but at this point in the novel Edgar is the Ravenswood family, and the phallicism of the naked, ruined, defenseless tower seems unmistak able. 13 The other four propositions are worth noting: the aristocracy as a class suffered a change in fortune in the course of history; the decline of the aristocracy was an evil but produced good results; chivalry had a civil izing social effect, but the loss of chivalric values in the modern world is compensated by greater political liberty;
88 mean a military institution, prompted by enthusiastic benevolence, sanctioned by religion, says G. P. R. James in his History of Chivalry (1830), beginning his definition with a historical conceptualization; but James is quick to add that it [chivalry] was more a spirit than an institution and that the outward forms of chivalry wer e only the signs by which it was conventionally agreed that those persons who possessed the spirit, should be distinguished from the other classes of society (18 19). Historical detail aside, says James, himself a prolific historical novelist, the spirit was the Chivalry (19). The problem that emerges in Scotts reckoning of the fortunes of the aristocracy his reading, leading males is that much of this spirit has departed from the actual landed and ruling aristocracy. The clash between the actua l and the natural aristocrat informs much of the tragedy implicit in the political conflicts of the Waverley Novels with the lower classes or the disinherited perceiving the honorable and heroic paths that the titled gentlemen have lost. Often these gen tlemen are literally lost, then, whether in the rugged wilds or the city labyrinth, and since the misreader of space is a member of the landed, ruling class, dire consequences for the nation may threaten. This idea is played out topographically in Scott, f rom Waverley to Castle Dangerous When Sir Arthur Wardour ventures to take the dangerous coast road in The Antiquary Scott notes that he did not see, or would not acknowledge, any signs of immediate storm, even though the darkening weather has produced a number of noticeable changes in the surrounding landscape and gathered clouds around him on all sides like misfortunes and disasters around a sinking empire and falling monarch (5455). Such catastrophes do not directly threaten the 1794 and the modern world is not truly enlightened and may stand to gain by the revival of morals (Fleishman 5354). These tenets Fleishman attributes to Scott across the spectrum of the Waverley novels are, of course, also variously preached by Scott imitators like James and non admirers of Scott like Carlyle.
89 Britain of Th e Antiquary but they are raging across the Channel; Wardours misreading of the landscape thus evokes the crisis Britain watches anxiously. Lovel, the novels young hero and a gentleman in disguise, has correctly read the horizon, as has the old beggar Edie Ochiltree, and both appear on the beach to help Wardour and his daughter to safety.14The Antiquary also makes clear that reading meanings into space too eagerly and impetuously may be as dangerous as disregarding them entirely. This point is carried by Scotts employing one of his most familiar devices, the misread or misleading beacon light, not once but twice in th e novel. In the folk tale Isabella Wardour relates in Chapter 18, The Fortunes of Martin Waldeck, a group of brothers are lured by mysterious beacon lights into making a demonic pact. This tale of necromancy and alchemy serves as a fitting introduction t o Volume Twos preoccupation with buried monkish treasure, yet it also foreshadows the novels half comic ending, in which a misinterpreted signal beacon throws the whole countryside into an uproar over invading French armies. Scotts allusions to Shakespe are and Milton in this scene reference other attempts to read signs in space, both the landscape and the stars to Macbeth s Its one of several occasions in which the decrepit aristocrat misreads the spaces around him and must rely on old wisdom (Edie) and natural aristocracy (Lovel) to es cape. Without Edies discernment it would have been utterly impossible for Sir Arthur Wardour or his daughter to have found their way [to safety] (57). Edie is no gentleman, of course, but the beach during the threatening storm has become a social leveler: a neutral field, where even a justice of peace and a strolling mendicant might meet upon terms of mutual forbearance (56). All things being equal, the old aristocracy is not up to the challenge of discernment and action. 14 Correctly reading the horizon is no mean feat in this instance, since it features a setting s un over water which, if the novels setting is Scotlands eastern coast as is commonly supposed, should not be there. This east setting sun is one of Scotts most famous gaffes, but makes sense if considered a dramatic and rhetorical background.
90 moving forest of Dunsinane, and to astrology in Paradise Lost : And behold, the light increased, like a comet to the eye of the astr onomer, with fear of change perplexing nations (348). Not only circumspection but also restraint are called upon to read the signs in space; not only care but also control mark the truly chivalrous man. Such a man is Kenilworths Wayland Smith, one of Scotts most capable interpreters of space. An adept straddler of social and class boundaries who, while not the novels most overtly chivalrous character, is nevertheless its effectual hero, Wayland Smith understands the land around the Vale of the White Horse well enough to conceal his smithy/alchemists laboratory beneath the earth, near an ancient stone circle feared by the local villagers.15In a novel focused on self fashioning and competing males, perceptive in its understanding of the way in which the whole of Elizabethan society, not just individuals, fashions itself through performance (Alexander xiv), Wayland emer ges as the most successful, because the most adaptable, male. In a text obsessed with ambition and self promotion, he is the only character to marry well and climb the social ladder, and he does so not by being ambitious He is fit to guide both Tressilian and Amy Robsart through the English countryside: when the former asks if he is perfectly acquainted with the roads in this country, Smith replies, I could ride them every inch by midnight (Ch11). Yet he also proves himself capable of understanding Elizabethan London in Chapter 13. Tressilian can only follow, amazed, as this appa rent village rustic walked on with great speed, and apparently perfect knowledge of the town, through a labyrinth of bye streets, courts, and blind alleys (128), a display of facility and confidence that matches the Highlanders navigation of the wild la ndscape in Waverley. 15 In fact Wayland Smith is a place in the Berkshire Downs, as well as the name of a legendary character associated with the place: an invisible smith who shoes horses for stranded travelers (Alexander 423). Scott thus builds a character who is adept at understan ding space/place from a place name.
91 but by behaving virtuously and chivalrously. This ascent and these rewards are related to his reading of the spaces around him, which reveals Waylands grasp of various kinds of knowledge: not only his geographical knowledge and sense of direction, but also his chemical, medical and linguis tic knowledge, as well as his commercial savviness and understanding of human nature. In London he knows how to find the chemistry shops to purchase ingredients for an important antidote. In the Vale of the White Horse, his choice of dwelling shows that he knows the community well enough to play doubly upon its superstitions: he can make a living by imitating the invisible smith of local legend, yet in a Radcliffean echo he also makes use of the stone circles evil reputation to carry out chemical experimen ts undisturbed. When Wayland and Amy Robsart reach Kenilworth Castle, he can easily adapt to its current state of mummery because he had once been a stage player (126). Waylands exceptional abilities his adaptability to different spaces and places, and the wide range of knowledge demonstrated by this adaptability contrasts with the relative fog in which the wavering hero proceeds. There is always some mystification about the person who can read space well: the reader of Scotts novels is usually denied access to their knowledge and thoughts, and remains privy only to the thoughts and perceptions of the poor interpreters of space and place. As the reader sees over Waverl eys shoulder in the Highlands, witnessing the young mans incredulity at Evan Dhus quick pace and sure step, so the reader of Kenilworth remains at Tressilians elbow in London, all but losing the nimble Wayland in the winding streets. The bafflement of the protagonist is again played out spatially: unlike Ainsworth, Scott gives us no panoramas in his London scenes, no familiar landmarks with which to orient ourselves. We remain at street level, in the labyrinth.
92 Scott seems never quite sure himself, and he is certainly never forthcoming, about what the ultimate means to knowledge may be. Characters as knowledgeable as Wayland therefore seem never quite real, even though they may be memorable and startlingly full of life. The distance Scott maintains from Wayland may help explain A. N. Wilsons reckoning of Kenilworth as something not quite novelistic, as rather a poem set to prose showing Scott reverting to narrative poem techniques (142) Nevertheless, Wayland Smith remains one of the most capable readers of space in Scott to remain recognizably human: his encompassing knowledge is at least explainable, and he becomes heroic and even noble because of the chivalric (or naturally aristocratic) uses to which he applies that knowledge. Lacking the birth of a Tressilian or even an Edward Waverley, he does good service and ascends the social ladder. He is neither the titled leader nor the dimwitted but loyal follower: he is rather the man that the nobles should be, if they dared. Seeking elements of continuity between the Scottish and Chivalry novels, Judith Wilt notes their separate but similar attempts to construct myth fictions from historical artifacts, the Scottish novels piecing together a national myth from the Stuart matter of the Jacobite uprisings, but the Chivalry novels attempting to assemble an international myth of Christendom, a myth upon shaky ground (155). Its tempting and serviceable to merge Wilts attempt at continuity w ith Fleishmans, and thus to see both sets of Waverley Novels examining the mythical patterns of male heroism across both of these fictional territories. Masculine engagement with the landscape, both reading it and navigating it, is one way both sets of novels conduct this examination; therefore, its one way both sets can be thought about as one set. The disinherited knight of Ivanhoe fighting for his name and his lands, gradually becomes Kenilworth s Wayland navigating the lands of others, ever wary of a nd regretting his dealings with the landed
93 aristocracy. Edward Waverley becomes baffled in his choice between not only north and south, Britain and Scotland, progress and romance, but also between natural and nominal chivalry: between Prince Charlie and King George. At the end of this long road, a sad one for Britains old aristocratic families, we find The Antiquary s Sir Arthur, unable to understand either the past or the present, unable to read historys ruins or the stormy horizon. Reading Ruins: The Historians and Edie Ochiltree In my last section I observed again that the nature of the text being read or misread in space changes; Chapter Three s discussion of the encoding of genre into space should make clear some of the reasons why this is so, in t hat the changing space reflects the historical novels palimpsest narrative itself. Since the reading of space equates with the acquisition of different kinds of knowledge, it should not surprise that the text of space frequently takes on a historical char acter. Nor is it due only to Scotts picturesque or Romantic affinities that the space of the Waverley novel is so frequently either the ahistorical, purely sublime space of forest wilds or the encoded, palimpsest space of British ruins: spaces which eithe r lack history (as Moretti claimed for mountains and margins) or where history is obscurely written onto the space. Washington Irving sums up the perceived difference between these two types of space in the opening essay of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Cr ayon : I visited various parts of my own country; and had I been merely a lover of fine s cenery, I should have felt little desire to seek elsewhere its gratification, for on no country had the charms of nature been more prodigally lavished. no, never need an American lo ok beyond his own country for the sublime and beautiful of natural scenery. But Europe held forth all the charms of storied and poetical association. There were to be seen the masterpieces of art, the refinements of highly cultivated soc iety, the quaint peculiarities of ancient and local custom. My native country was full of youthful promise; Europe was rich in the accumulated treasures of age. Her very ruins told the history of the times gone by, and every mouldering stone was a chronicl e. I longed to wander over the scenes of renowned achievement to tread, as it were, in the footsteps of antiquity to loiter about the ruined castle to meditate on the falling tower to escape, in short, from
94 the commonplace realities of the present, and los e myself among the shadowy grandeurs of the past. (4) Irving had, according to the 1848 Preface to the Sketch Book begun his literary career in Europe under the kind and cordial auspices of Sir Walter Scott (xxii), whom he corresponded with and visited prior to the books publication. Composing these lines in 1819, he would have looking back on the first wave of Wa verley Novels from Waverley to The Bride of Lammermoor and also on ruinous Ellangowan in Guy Mannering, St. Ruths Priory in The Antiquary Lammermoor s Wolfs Crag and locked fountain, and other sites, to say nothing of a half century of Romantic ruin poetry and Gothic novels. Europe did not have a monopoly on ruins, of course, and neither did Scott have a monopoly on the description of ruins. But Irvings comment does indicate the some of the assumptions that Enlightenment and Romantic discussions of ruins had made current, and which Scotts novels had proliferated. It does so in a way that seems to distinguish between categories of knowledge or feeling: the wilds of North America can evoke a sublime impression, but the palimpsest spaces of Europes ruins add new dimensions, layers, and connotations. While indicating the history of times gone by and thus serving as something so prosaic as a narrative or chronicle in stone, the grandeurs of the past are also shadowy and poetic: blurred around the edges, glimmering, disappearing into the organic. Like the vernacular ruin poetry of the late eighteenth century, including the scraps of ballads gathered by Scotts favorite editor Bishop Percy, the ruinous landscape Irving has in mind suggests the clos e connection between land and history, and marks how deeply the natural world is imbued with cultural values. But insofar as the [ruin] is in decay, it also suggests an opposing movement, the naturalizing of culture by time. (Janowitz 56) If, as Thomas Gray had argued, Not a precipice, not a torrent, not a cliff but is pregnant with religion and poetry, if natural scenes could self evidently awe an atheist into belief, without the
95 help of other argument (45), the ruin presents a much more complicated sign: a vision of forward movement and slippage, growth and decay bound together almost symbiotically. In its way, it is the ultimate spatial analogue to Scotts guardedly progressive view of history. The manmade structure in Scott (fictitious, historic al, typically somewhere in between) is rendered in a state of flux with the natural landscape. The celebrated picturesqueness or painterly quality of his ruin scenes turns upon this idea, that a historical element of the landscape is in the very act of sin king back into the organic, the history less, the mysterious and that the blurring of these lines evokes mysterious emotions in the sympathetic viewer.16 16 The site described need not be an actual ruin for Scott to play upon these ideas. The mansion described in Chapter Ten of The Abbot (1821) is still occupied and functioning, yet its shift back into nature is imminent in Scotts description: The court before the door, which had once been defended with a species of low outer wall, now ruinous, was paved, but the stones were completely covered with long gray nettles, thistles, and other weeds, which, shooting up betwixt the flags, had displaced many of them from their level. Even matters demanding more peremptory attention had been left neglected, in a manner which argued sloth or poverty in the extreme. The stream, undermining a part of the bank near an angle of the rui nous wall, had brought it down, with a corner turret, the ruins of which lay in the bed of the river. The current, interrupted by the ruins which it had overthrown, and turned yet nearer to the site of the tower, had greatly enlarged the breach it had made, and was in the process of undermining the ground on which the house itself stood (104105). But these sympathies, Scott suggests, are always differently informed. He excels, then, at portraying t he sublimity of ruin views but also at emphasizing the inability of wouldbe interpreters to explain their effects or account their significance adequately. Various critics have been concerned to show Scott constructing fictions of authenticity about the nationhood of Britain or, as Wilt notes, upon the shakier ground of Christendom, but what has been less acknowledged is Scotts own cognizance that authenticity can prove a fiction an objet dart dependant for its apparent meanings on the perspective an d prejudices of the viewer. Its this cognizance that his ruin scenes tend to emphasize. Just as Maurice de Bracy misremembers the story of Benjamin, so readers of ruins impose their own contextual structures on the remaining fragments, making for gross misinterpretations. Scott not only acknowledges this epistemological collision; he laughs at it.
96 Again, The Antiquary is a useful novel to turn to. A novel preoccupied with recovering narratives and knowledge, with the different means of acquiring and val idating information, it is also a novel preoccupied with landscape, featuring several scenes in which characters attempt to derive meaning from viewing ruins, often unsuccessfully. If the Kaim of Kinprunes scene in The Antiquary is not the most striking scene in a Scott novel about the reading and misreading of a landscape, it is probably the most written about. In this episode, a misread landscape becomes the novels first indication that meaning and narratives will not be easy for characters to reconstr uct. Jonathan Oldbuck, the antiquary of the title and the representative of scholarly, bookish reconstructions of the past, proudly displays his estate to the novels romantic hero, Lovel. Their tour concludes with a climb to a truly remarkable spot, a dearly bought hillside which Lovel gamely admits commands a fine view, but which for Oldbuck possesses far more significant qualities (33): it is not for the prospect I brought you hither; do you see nothing else remarkable? nothing on the surface of the ground? Why, yes; I do see something like a ditch, indistinctly marked. Indistinctly! pardon me, sir, but the indistinctness must be in your powers of vision. Nothing can be more plainly traceda proper agger or vallum with its corresponding ditch or fossa Indistinctly! why, Heaven help you, the lassie, my niece, as light headed a goose as womankind affords, saw the traces of the ditch at once. you know a ditch from level ground, I presume, when you see them? Indistinct! why, the very common people, the very least boy that can herd a cow, calls it the Kaim of Kinprunes; and if that does not imply an ancient camp, I am ignorant what does. (2728, emphasis Scotts) For Oldbuck, what seem to be the extant historical elements in the scene (in this case the remains of a Roman fort) can be distinctly detected by the discerning eye. Oldbucks learned discussion, composed of the same jargon and allusion as his earlier talk on books and broadsheets, touches on the historical apparatus he uses to confirm the site of the final conflict between Agricola and
97 the Caledonians. In effect, he has located this site by his reading of history, and has confirmed it visually since the land correspond[s] with all the marks of that celebrated place of action (28). He justifies his overpayment for the barren land by citing its importance to Scottish history: But then it was a national concern; . Whose patriotism would not grow warmer, as old Johnson says, on the plains of Marathon?(29). As Oldbuck recounts hi s discovery of an ancient stone bearing the carved letters A. D. L. L., which he takes to mean Agricola Dicavit Libens Lubens or Agricola willingly and happily dedicated [this], the scene builds to a comic pitch (29; Hewitt 375). The misinterpreted in itials onstone motif signals a folk scenario in which the prideful and pedantic scholar takes a fall at the hands of the unschooled, but more level headed, local. Scott is well aware of it, as Lovels unspoken thoughts indicate,17The Kaim of Kinprunes episode reveals much about Scotts perception that the historical structure, whether a physical artifact or a structure of knowledge, is sometimes and so chooses this moment to introduce Edie Ochiltree, the novels repository of folk wisdom and local history and also the character most conversant with the landscape (as I will discuss below). Edie explodes Oldbucks erudite lecture by asserting that what he fancies a Roman ru in is nothing more than the remnants of a fairly recent wedding barbecue. He mocks Oldbucks assertion that a certain eminence of the hill marks the praetorium or headquarters of the ancient camp by interrupting, Praetorian here, Praetorian there, I mind the bigging ot (remember when it was built) (30). Without being told of the alleged artifact, Edie recounts the carving of A. D. L. L. on the stone and avers that the letters stand for Aiken Drums Lang Ladle, a playful reference to a Scots nursery rhy me (31). 17 This, thought Lovel to himself, is a famous counterpart to the story of Keip on this syde (39). The reference is to what would now be called an urban folk tale (Hewitt 377), well known in Scotts day, of antiquarians puzzling over a seemingly mysterious stone carving (as in KEI PONT HI SSYDE), and later ridiculed when the markers mundane significance is revealed. Dickens Mr. Pickwick, another over enthusiastic antiquary, makes a similar mistake early in his travels (see Pickwick, Chapter 11).
98 indistinguishable from the natural or mundane, and that different knowledge gathering systems must be employed to understand and verify supposed evidence (when thats even possible). Its therefore an episode that simultaneously imagines the historian and the reader of historical novels: both are trying to separate and distinguis h data that are blending into each other. By placing different opinions about a hillside ruin into comic opposition, Scott examines differing modes of recovering and codifying historys significance, but he also hints at the shifting, uncertain nature of historical novel space. Judith Wilt writes of this scene: There is explicit comic deflation of the aristocratic romanticizing of history property here, of course . There is, more subtly, the suggestion that the populist history revolving around the c elebrations and artifacts of ordinary folk is as usefully historical as the aristocratic idea implicit in the antiquarys ecstasy over world historical clashes. ( Secret Leaves 158) In Sir Walter Scott: Landscape and Locality James Reed cites this scene as the first instance in the novel where Oldbuck is the focus of a series of lessons by Scott on how not to look at a landscape (91, original emphasis). For Reed, Oldbucks inappropriate scrutiny arises from his being a maverick antiquarian, [and] an i ndiscriminate collector of old things with which he clutters his old house, a description that must remind us of Scott himself (90). But Scott makes abundantly clear in The Antiquary that the best view of space, and therefore of history, is an amalgamat ed view, one that allows differing epistemological tools including imagination. In this particular instance, observed custom and living history have been validated: Edies remembered truth is more historical than Oldbucks bookish mistake. Elsewhere, per sonal experience is not a guarantor of truth, and a historians wider perspective is necessary. If The Antiquary does not really suggest that we learn from age on the personal level, as A. N. Wilson
99 writes, it suggests in the broader view that we cannot learn from past ages at all without allowing for differing viewpoints (73).18In the Kaim of Kinprunes episode there is present only a ditch and an obscurely marked stone. In Chapter Seventeen of The Antiquary however, a large touring party visits the ruins of a local priory, providing Scott with an occasion for depicting misreadings of a more fully realized ruin scene. Like Fleishmans view of the historical novelist as tapestry restorer, weaving whole scenes or figures to fill the empty spaces (6), The Antiquary s characters and its narrator take turns piecing histories together from the extant stone structures: histories that conflict and, perhaps just as importantly, cannot be reconciled by the narrator bec ause the site itself is largely unreal. Led by Oldbucks running commentary, the touring party approach the ruins through one of Scotts pocketed landscapes, a increasingly dense rural scene full of dells and dens, of tree trunks and roots hollowed out i nto recesses, in which the sheep love to repose themselves, of gushing and pure water glimpsed between the intervals afforded by openings in the natural wood, the whole scene shrouded by a sylvan canopy (129). The familiar Scott landscape that conceal s helps to create a mood of rare inaccessibility, of secreted and unknown splendor tucked away in mysterious niches of the wild landscape, a note Scott sounds throughout his novels. This almost mystical scenery and mood do not simply drop away to reveal t he architectural marvel the party has come to see. Rather, the structure and the landscape are blended and 18 Although the Kinprunes episode is not the test of chivalric masculine values I described above, implications about gender and class are worth noting here. To Old buck, the ancient remains are so self evident that even light headed young women, common folk, and children can see them. These curmudgeonly asides nevertheless imply that commonplace assumption of the Waverley novels and the nineteenth century historical novel generally: that reading the landscape successfully is a desirable masculine skill, one that young men of quality and intelligence should acquire. After Edies revelation has exploded Oldbucks reading, the narrator compares him to a damsel of sixteen, whose romance of true love has been blown up by a n untimely discovery, or a child of ten years, whose castle of cards has been blown down by a malicious companion (31) comparisons that again suggest that the correct interpretation of landscape is both masculine and mature.
100 complementary. The scene reveals just how intentional is the spatial palimpsest in Scottthat is, how elements historical, aesthetic, dramatic and ot herwise blend into each other in deliberately stylized ways. When the party follows Oldbuck through a breach in a low, ancient, and ruinous wall they suddenly come upon a scene equally unexpected and interesting the priory, in all its glory (130). So t he first sign of an historic element in the landscape is a broken wall a failed or compromised boundary, but one that has taken on the new aesthetic function of making the view more dramatic and delightful. The scene continues: They stood pretty high upon the side of the glen, which had suddenly opened into a sort of amphitheatre to give room for a pure and profound lake of a few acres extent, and a space of level ground around it. The banks then arose everywhere steeply, and in some places were varied by r ocks --in others covered with the copse, which run up, feathering their sides lightly and irregularly, and breaking the uniformity of the green pasture ground--Beneath, the lake discharged itself into the huddling and tumultuous brook, which had been their companion since they had entered the glen. At the point at which it issued from its parent lake, stood the ruins which they had come to visit. (130) As noted in Chapter Two the transformation of foliage into a sort of amphitheatre is one of Scotts most common nature to architecture shifts and signals the dramatic elements at work in the scene.19What the viewer sees, on a grand scale and apparently naturally created, is essentially an ornamental garden scene (not unlike the garden theater of St. Ronans Well ). The surrounding forest acts as a niche in which to display the bas relief sculpture of the priory; the steep risings and irregular feathering effects of the bank suggest a rough pedestal for the ruins, the rushing and pooling water a fountain. This is landscape transformed and transforming, landscape put to figurative and imaginative uses, less a historical scene than a historically themed garden folly. As the crumbled wall works to frame the natural scene and surprise the viewer, so the forest has carved itself out into a fitting hollow space for the presentation of the ruins. 19 See, for instance, the sylvan amphitheatre of Waverley, Chapter 22 and of Ivanhoe Chapter 32, the amphitheatre of level turf of The Monastery Chapter 21 (246); and the amphitheatre filled with large trees of Anne of Geierstein Chapter 21 (334).
101 No antiquary, nor even an entire party of antiquaries, are equipped to interpret this scene adequately, since the scene itself is so patently artificial. In the continui ng description of the ruins, the narrator plays speculative historian, reconstructing not only shapes and structures but also historic functions, reconstructing a pattern of history from what little is left. Although the author of Waverleys seems a more trustworthy voice, the diction and spatial movement of the scene uncannily recall Oldbucks earlier speculations from the Kinprunes scene. As the antiquary has misread his Roman camp, linking his property to ancient warfare by reading the topography, so t he narrator here links Saint Ruths, essentially a fictitious location, with the wars of Montrose.20Immediately following the narrators own speculative description, Scott focuses on humorously clashing speculative opinions about the priory, its historica l role and its current significance, formed by members of the tour party. Its overgrown remains signify something different to each member of the dispute: a seat of learning in the Dark Ages for the Whiggish Oldbuck, pomp and ceremonial for the Tory Sir Arthur Wardour, inconceivable clerical duties for the Reverend Blattergowl, alchemy and buried treasure for the occultist and charlatan Dousterswivel, and a place where women have been excluded for Isabella (132). John 20 Following the common assumption that Saint Ruths Priory represents Arbroath Abbey, James Reed writes: The reference is not directly historic, though Montrose did campaign in the Arbroath area in 1645; it is, however, an example of Scotts technique of making probable history sustain the framework of his fiction (93). But we should note, as Oldbuck has learned earlier, that probable history may be formulated only if the site has been correctly identified. The relationship between the ascertainable historical facts (Saint Ruth resembles Arbroath Abbey, Montrose campaigned near Arbroath) and the fictional setting and situations of The Antiquary are paradigmatic of Scotts understanding of the historical novel: history, imag inatively applied, supports a fictional framework. Speculations about the ruin, historical constructions put upon its fragments, must be ultimately abstract and hypothetical since Scott has faked the site. A mid Victorian history of Arbroath Abbey acknowl edges Scotts inclusion of local details, but also his license in creating and conflating other featur es: An attentive reader acquainted with the vicinity of Arbroath, will have little doubt that it contains the scenery of that story; but a poets license is taken in removing the ruins of St. Ruth (described as Arbroath and Melrose abbeys intermixed) from the bustling district of a large town into one of the dells of the district (Miller vivii). Scott has then moved a conflation of two abbe ys from an identifiable location and hidden [it] in some sequestered dell where only accident will find it.
102 MacQueens remarks on the wigs belong ing to Oldbuck, Wardour and Blattergowl help demonstrate demonstrates the unyielding single mindedness of each clas s perspective of knowledge: By the 1790s, the Three Estates were long superannuated, and in The Antiquary they are represented by th e three wigs, which survive all changes of fashion to adorn the parish in lonely glory. Sir Arthur Wardour represents Temporality he is a baronet. The minister, the Rev. Mr Blattergowl, is Spirituality, and the Antiquary himself is Merchants and Burg esses. The first interest of each wig some aspect of the past is pursued with a self centred concentration which, for the speaker at least, excludes everything else. (MacQueen 45 46) MacQueens reading lends credence to the idea of clashing methodolo gies of knowledge gathering at work in Scotts ruin scenes: clashes which the narrator, while more confident and seemingly well informed, cannot ultimately resolve. While Oldbucks lecturing of Lovel continues to demonstrate his commitment to a bookish re construction of the past which takes cues from extant architectural features, differing priorities intrude fast upon each other, until no clear consensus about the priory is reached: There they lived, continued the Antiquary, with nought to do but to spend their time in investigating points of remote antiquity, transcribing manuscripts, and composing new works for the information of posterity. And, added the Baronet, in exercising the rites of devotion with a pomp and ceremonial worthy of the office of the priesthood. And if Sir Arthur's excellence will permit, said the German, with a low bow, the monksh might also make de vary curious experiment in deir laboraties, both in chemistry and magia naturalis I think, said the clergyman, they would have enough to do in collecting the teinds of the parsonage and vicarage of three good parishes. And all, added Miss Wardour, nodding to the Antiquary, without interruption from womankind. (132) Only Isabella Wardours slightly bantering remark seems entirely supportable, though none of the opinions is necessarily incorrect. Scotts focus in such scenes rests more on the questions
103 than the answers of history, on the nature of the weaves suggested by the tapestry rather than on the tattered remains of the tapestry itself: What really concerns Scott and his character historians is the destruction, the disappearances, the racial and personal losses which make up the fabric of history, the wiped out voids which the persistence of ruins, or even the sudden discovery of hidden fragments, only emphasizes. (Wilt, Secret Leaves 166) It is Edie Ochiltree who turns out to understand Saint Ruths landscape best, as the site becomes the focal point of The Antiquary s second volume, and various plot strands revolve around attempts to read the topography of the priory and unlock its secrets. But then Edie is one of those problem characters of the Waverley Novels whom I have labeled Elementals, whose facility with landscape, knowledge and history is mysterious and seem ingly supernatural; Ill describe these characters further in the next section. As I indicated in Chapter One Scotts ruin scenes have long been considered palimpsests by critics, spaces where information has been encoded in layers which the seemingly all knowing narrator may peel back and reveal at will. My intention here is to point out the lack of consensus among Scotts narrators and characters who share the act of decoding the palimpsest, and to emphasize that here also Scotts playful undermining of historical discovery is evident. While his typical readers of space are baffled and practically helpless when decoding the wild, rural scene (and Scotts narrator may be unhelpfully cagey), the gifted historians and erudite narrators are confident when digging up the ruins scenes for our edification: confident, but not necessarily correct. Scotts framing narrator of The Monastery local historian Captain Clutterbuck, suggests as much in the novels introductory epistle. Summoned to provide a guided tour of the title monastery to a mysterious monk, Clutterbuck discovers that The stranger not only knew all that I could tell him, but a great deal more and could even correct many of the vague tales which I
104 had adopted on loose and vulgar tradition (18). A gain mocking the presumptions and ethos of the historian, as well as Scotts own craft of antiquarian novelist, Clutterbuck declares that such careful research is like to destroy my trade, and that of all local antiquaries, by substituting truth instead o f legend and romance But let it pass. Humana perpessi sumus All changes around us, past, present, and to come; that which was history yesterday becomes the fable of today, and the truth of today is hatched into a lie by tomorrow (1819). The Monastery s Benedictine, like The Antiquary s Sir Arthur Wardour, has come to search the ruins for buried treasure, but in this case the treasure is historical and spiritual, simply the heart of an upright man (24). For Clutterbuck, however, the monk brings new t reasure: the much edited story of the upright man, passed on to the Author of Waverley to further revise, correct and prepare for the press (29). The narrative itself, then, comes to us as a product of discovery, assembly and amalgamation. Narratives com pete and synthesize, eventually bringing us a cohesive but by no means a truthful fusion. Fiona Robertson writes: The mouldered and forgotten heart of the Abbot Ambrosius is exchanged for narrative. The heart is rescued, taken to a more sympathetic spiritual refuge by the Benedictine, and the legend is modernized and Protestantized to suit contemporary taste. The grave robbing of The Monastery produces a heart, not a narrative, but the words used by the Benedictine to describe the heart make it clear that on a symbolic level the two can be equated. The heart is an inestimable treasure, for those who know how to use it rightly. ( Legitimate Histories 134) So too is the narrative of history, though Scott is never prepared to declare unequivocally just what are its right uses, or who in the disharmony of conflicting voices is fit to judge. The Elementals: Irrational Readers in The Talisman and Kenilworth Ive characterized the Waverley novels certain kind of space as both functional and textual, participating in the narratives of both the historian and the tale teller. Its shifting, uncertain qualities allow its adaptation to different generic categories, all the better to (re)create the world of the past in an experiential totality. Ive also looked at some of the readers of this
105 transmutable text of space, from the young males who are called upon to navigate spaces to the learned misreaders of ruin scene s. In this final section, Ill discuss the junction of the two categories of text and readers in the ideal readers of Waverley space, and at the problems these characters pose for the historical novels investigation of knowledge and understanding. In The English Novel Walter Allen describes briefly the bizarre nonrational, sometimes lunatic figures that haunt [Scotts] novels and are so important to the working out of his plots, characters like Meg Merrilies, Madge Wildfire and her mother, even Edie Och iltree. They are, or are often on the verge of being, elementals (133). Criticism has long found in the characters Allen names a meaningful link between the genteel young protagonists and the peoples, customs and folk cultures they encounter in their jour neys. Typically, they serve as a means of introducing the staid English observer to the seemingly strange, typically backwards Scots subjects whose culture, history and landscapes Scott is either celebrating or appropriating, depending on whom one asks. Li ke the sturdy peasants, the Mucklebackits and Fairservices of Scott, these elementals are steeped in Scottishness. Unlike them, their excessive strangeness and borderline lunacy prompt their edgy and unpredictable behavior, which in turn immerses the pro tagonist and reader in traditional Scottish folk culture and dialect, even if Scott himself has largely adapted the originals and invented most of the tradition. Allen understood this unusual character type as being indigenous to the Scottish novels, for him the source of Scotts power, for they are, as it were, organic growths of t he Scottish earth (133). Their wildness is nevertheless authentic; they are particularly vivid samplings of local color. This linking of the Elementals with local agrarian culture and custom coincides with Georg Lukacs appreciation of Scotts delineation of historical processes from the bottom, and anticipates James Reeds claims for locality and character. But here again is a restrictive
106 truism: for to accept the limitatio n of the Elementals to the Scottish novels is to understand only one level of their significance, and in so doing to miss a defining moment for the nineteenthcentury historical novel: the appearance of an archetypal character for the genre. F or the Elemen tal s a ppear on nonScottish soil as well one could even argue they appear in a purer form. The term is perhaps more instructive than it seems at first: as Elementals these characters are linked with the earth, weather and sky, but as Elementals in the arca ne sense of mythical beings, they transcend them. However authentic and local they might seem, the Elementals also seem impossible. Allens diction further suggests that these characters signal a mixing of genres, a mingling of elements which should be presumably disparate: it is worth observing that their existence causes no surprise even to his most hardheaded characters, Jonathan Oldbuck, for instance. They are surprisingly at home in his world of mundane common sense and condition the events t hat take place in it; they are, as it were, dramatizations of those aspects of life that are outside reason and are inexplicable in terms of reason. (133) The observation that these characters dramatize the irrational builds from Allens discussion of th e Gothic characters in Scott, to which the E lementals are somewhat akin. Though little more than a hint, the observation i s useful, since it marks a well known Scott feature as being generically and rationally unstable, unpredictable but habitual in Sc otts created worlds. If Allens elementals are understood as representing a sort of regional cultural ethos, a genuine part of living natural experience woven into the fiction like Scotts Gothic borrowings (132133), then they indeed live i n the Scottish novels only in the Scottish locality that Scott knew and understood first hand. But if understood as sites as living linkages or perhaps vanishing points between categories of information, representation, genres and types of knowledge, t hen they abound in both the Scottish novels, the Chivalry novels and the historical novel generally Sites where the verifiable fact and the unequivocal fiction blur, where history
107 meets legend, realism meets romance, and quite often, prose meets poetry and song, they are also not coincidentally links between characters and spaces. I n the Elementals mix of genre elements and dramatization of the life outside reason, I argue they are simply taking on attributes of historical novel space itself the forests, glens, and ruins with which they are always linked. T he Elementals are the means by which Scott gives voice and agency to the uncertain, layered and shifting spaces of the historical novel. If Waverley space is the splendid theatre of the subli me the Elementals are its actors. Characters insane but frequently precognitive, blighted yet gifted, like blind Tiresias they hold mysterious congress with knowledge yet also with the topos And like the shifting, symbol laden Waverley landscape itself, they find their way in various manifesta tions into the genre at large; it is but a short step from Edie Ochiltree to Hugos Quasimodo or even Stevensons Ben Gunn. Their overlapping of categories, the quality that makes them grotesques, paradoxically place s them on secure footing on the shifting, overlapping Waverley spaces Ive described. Not just readers of the palimpsest, they become part of the palimpsest itself, like illuminations in a manuscript. What they are not are merely figures in a landscape su ch as we find in various painterly moments in Scott, One finds numerous moments in the Waverley Novels where human figures merge with space almost as rhetorical devices: one thinks of the creeping, bestial villagers in the village of Waverleys Tully Veolan or perhaps Helen Macgregors attacking Highlanders in Rob Roy In that scene there are no Highlanders present in Captain Thorntons party to mediate their appearance to the narrator, only Englishmen and Lowlanders. As a result, Helen and her followers ap pear otherworldly and Gothic ; in a scene where all the ordinary features of nature
108 were raised and exalted t he land is all powerful and the figures in the landscape low, primitive almost simian : As these sibyls thrust forth their grey heads, imperfect ly covered with close caps of flannel, and showed their shrivelled brows, and long skinny arms, with various gestures, shrugs, and muttered expressions in Gaelic addressed to each other, my imagination recurred to the witches of Macbeth . The little children also, who began to crawl forth, some quite naked, and others very imperfectly covered with tatters of tartan stuff, clapped their tiny hands, and grinned at the English soldiers, with an expression of national hate and malignity . (278) All is threat even supernatural threat, in this vaunting landscape, and these subhuman creeping things are one with it: actually dwelling in holes burrowed into the hillside like the inhabitants of the dead pit in Kiplings Morrowbie Jukes. The space and the people merge, together constituting a single, forceful meaning (national hate) felt palpably by the narrator. But the Elementals are not subjugated to the composition of space in the same way; their role is uncertain, but considerable, significant They are not elements of a single scene, living props in the stage scenery, but full fledged characters whose facility with the environment mirrors a facility with certain kinds of knowledge. Although I discussed Edie Ochiltrees role in The Antiquary earlier, he is worth reconsidering briefly, as he is specifically named by Allen. From this organic growth we can look at other Elementals in the Chivalry novels, thus demonstrating the greater complexity of this character type for the genre. If The Antiquary argues that the best view of space and history is an amalgamated view that appreciates different epistemological layers, Edie is consistently successful at finding such a view, either of space or history. He understands both the spaces and the narrati ves of the novel, adept at uncovering their layers. His close connection and mysterious facility with space combines with his at times unaccountable knowledge to make him perhaps the earliest Scott Elemental in my sense of the term. His knowledge of the novels spaces and mysterious ability to navigate them quickly is especially worth noting, as a trait that reappears in other Elementals, in
109 and out of Scott. The ground which Edie Ochiltree so knowingly describes he also seems to emerge from, stealing upon Lovel and Oldbuck in Kinprunes scene unseen and unheard, though they are at the top of a hill (30). He appears again on the shore to save Sir Arthur Wardour from the storm, striding prophet like from the haze and drizzle, shouting Turn back! Turn back! (56). He appears again, emerging in Dante esque contortions with the landscape, to try to prevent Lovels duel with Captain MacIntyre in Chapter 20, [sitting] upon the roots of the old thorn that had been the rendezvous point, as vigourous in his decay as the moss grown but contorted boughs which served him for a canopy; his name even means old tree (160).21Edies interaction with the layered location of St. Ruths makes this relationship with space clearer, especially after the antiquarian partys failure to read the spacehistory palimpsest. It is Edie who knows of the hidden tunnel that shelters Lovel afte r the duel, leading from a tree enshrouded hillside to within the priorys walls. He also knows its original clandestine use in Englands remote Catholic past built so that the Abbot could spy on his monks. From this medieval hiding place, Edie foil s the p lots of the charlatan Dousterswivel by impersonating an offended spirit of the ruins. Edie knows the occultist is pretending to divine the location of hidden treasure in the ruins; he acts as his guide, tricking the trickster by salting the mine of histor y. This farcical episode, often written off as superficial Gothic parody by critics not only As a character who seems himself to blend into the palimpsest of space, Edie is best suited to move around it, explain it, and at times manipulat e it. 21 Like Wordsworths erect but aged thorn, a mass of knotted joints, / A wretched thing forlorn (The Thorn 6, 8 9), Edie presides over The Antiquary s own birth mystery. Most of the situations in The Thorn have thematic parallels in Scotts novel, from its birth mystery scandal to the mysterious unreasoning force of its landscape as its speaker directs, I cannot tell; I wish I could; / For the true reason no one knows, / But if youd gladly view the spot (8991). James Reed distinguishes between Wordsworths view of nature and man as different but related components of one larger whole; components which interact physically, morally, and s piritually, from Scotts view of man, and the works of man, in a total landscape, every natural view a History Trail imbued, with the anecdotal, reminiscent richness of the experienced and informed observer (9). In The Antiquary however, the i nformed observer is Oldbuck, who has been shown up and gently mocked by Edie, the Old Tree.
110 reveals Edies role as the trick ster historian, but also emphasizes his preternatural knowledge of the past and of space. He literally knows how the organic morphs into the architectural or historical. Against the suppositions of the touring party, and transcending the cautious, speculative historian turns of the narrator, Edie understands the grounds of St. Ruths spatially, historically and one might even say id eologically. And he moves over these grounds at times described realistically, at other times taking on the qualities of a comedy set, with spaces for eavesdropping and off stage voices as adeptly as over the Gothic spaces of Glenallan House or the commonsensical surroundings of Fairport. As Scotts first full blown Elemental character, he alone bridges the dimensions of space, narrative and genre. He alone understands the palimpsest on all levels. 22In some ways ruin scenes in Scott, like his examination of St. Ruths, prepare us for the Elementals by their association with Catholicism: crumbling remains of abbeys, monasteries and cathedrals, they are links to an English past that was still palpable, and seem also to be links to other worldly knowledge and power. So the Catholic space may be haunted, even when all other spaces may be relatively realistic; to identify this as a Gothic motif is only to acknowledge the Gothic s intuitive acknowledgement of this past. The sacramentality associated with Catholic spaces implies multiple natures overlapping: the cities of man and God overlaying each other in Augustine, the natural world whose acts may yet resonate on the spiritual plane. Additionally, the British Catholic ruin is not only a residue of historical st ruggle but also a link to a coherent spatial/political whole according to Lefevbre, who offers medieval churchdominated cities as a successful blending of his triad of spatial categories (4041). Monkish spaces were apparently 22 David Gellatley and Donald Bean Lean from Waverley and Meg Merrilies from Guy Mannering are the only characters before Edie who come close to playing the same complicated role. Meg Merrilies especially succeeds at linking narrative, space and genre, although her knowledge of all three are far less mysterious and unaccountable than Edies.
111 successful and harmonious spaces of social practice and yet were destroyed as such they become idealized riddles, spaces of lost knowledge, coherency and perspective (as when Egremont regrets the loss of the Monastics in Disraelis Sybil ). Starting with Edie Ochiltree at least, Scotts Elementals mirror many of the same qualities as these ontologically mixed ruin spaces. They are often physically compromised (old, blind, stunted in growth). They seem historically backwards, like throwbacks to another era, or may perhaps seem universal or timeless. Their frequent lack of rationality also participates in but also subverts the dynamic between Catholicism and superstition assumed during Scotts time, summed up by P. G. Maxwell Stuart as Middle Ages = Catholic = ignorant and superstit ious, as opposed to modern times = nonCatholic/deist/agnostic = enlightened and scientific (5). Most Elementals seem to have access to mysterious metaphysical, irrational knowledge and power, but in many cases (including Edies) they exhibit specific links to Catholicism.23Another Elemental character from a more remote historical setting recalls many of Edies qualities. Theodorick of Engaddi appears late in Chapter Three of The Talisman, the goal of the journey Sir Kenneth undertakes through the Syrian desert (which I described in my first chapter). Just before he appears, the long series of argumentative jabs and counter jabs exchan ged between the Christian Kenneth and the Muslim Sheerkohf boils to a climax when Sheerkohf chants the verses to Ahriman, a mythological tale supposedly describing his familys occult origins, but which Kenneth takes to be a prayer to Satan. Sheerkohfs poem touches upon the The compromised yet sacramental ruin scene seems the best mirroring space, then, for these equally complex characters. 23 Edies social status as a Kings Bedesman is a historical link to a Catholic past no one in The Antiquary knows directly, an order of paupers partly maintained by the Kings of Scotland in conformity with the ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who were expected in return to pray for the royal welfare and that of the s tate (Scott, qtd in Hewitt 376).
112 very questions of holy and unholy ground, of righteous and maleficent spirits, that the two have been debating in Bunyanesque fashion: for instance, the oasis which knight and Saracen have visited in Chapter Two is recalled by the fo untain in the desert field, granted by a Benigner Power who contrasts with Ahriman, the evil spirit who controls the lashing wave and tornado (42, lines 78). The speaker wonders if Ahriman has form or if he is intermingled into the very fabric and el ements of earth: Or art thou mixd in Natures source, An ever operating force, Converting good to ill; An evil principle innate, Contending with our better fate (42, lines 3135) Sheerkohf claims to have been descended from subterranean demigods who a re themselves elementals created out of the pure elementary fire and though he is content to leave the finer questions of religion to the theologians, he grants the simple power of such beings: though the Prophet (blessed be his name!) hath sown among st us the seed of a better faith than our ancestors learned in the ghostly halls of Tugrut, yet we are not willing, like other Moslemah, to pass hasty doom on the lofty and powerful elementary spirits from whom we claim our origin. These Genii, according to our belief and hope, are not altogether reprobate, but are still in the way of probation, and may hereafter be punished or rewarded. Leave we this to the mollahs and the imaums. Enough that with us the reverence for these spirits is not altogether eff aced by what we have learned from the Koran . (40 41) Not altogether effaced, he says a palimpsest like feature spoken of on unholy ground, in the context of a dialogue that has ranged from figure to figure, symbol to symbol, in an attempt to se e which soldier, religion, culture, or nation possesses the truer knowledge.24 24 Scotts anonymous footnote to the poem playfully reassures his Christian readers by referring to the worthy and learned clergyman who has translated the supposedly ancient poem: for fear of misconception, we should w arn the reader to recollect, that it is composed by a heathen, to whom the real causes of moral and physical evil are unknown, and who views their predominance in the system of the universe, as all must view that appalling fact, who have not the benefit of the Christian Revelation (43). In the context of a religious and cultural debate in which Sir Kenneth has been hard pressed to hold his own, the disclaimer rings comically hollow. But Sheerkohf, though an admirable reader of the landscape around him, is not the Elemental here, despite his
113 claims; rather the seemingly infernal spirit that Sir Kenneth hes itated not to believe that the blasphemous hymn of the Saracen had raised up is the object of Sir Kenneths quest, a Christian hermit, Theodorick (43). Theodoricks appearance finds him utterly familiar with the territory around the two horsemen, and ve ry capable of using it to his advantage. He is tall like the demigods of Sheerkohfs tale, a figure of great height and very thin, which skipped over rocks and bushes with so much agility as, added to the wild and hirsute appearance of the individual, reminded [Kenneth] of the fauns and silvans (43). 25 Not the worse saint [for being mad] returned the Moslem, speaking according to the well known Eastern belief, that madmen are under the influence of immediate inspiration Know, Christian, that when one eye is extinguished, the other becomes more keen; when one hand is cut off, the other becomes more powerful; so, when our reason in human things is disturbed or destroyed, our view heavenward becomes more acute and perfect (47) This apparition, w ho at first appeared to dog their path by concealing itself behind rocks and shrubs, using those advantages of the ground with great address, and surmounting its irregularities with surprising agility, dramatically and frenziedly announces himself as Theodorick of Engaddi walker of the desert friend of the Cross, and flail of all infidels (46) He pounces on Sheerkohf s throat in his animal skins, here in this treacherous was te of grottoes and caves which were often the refuge of beasts of prey, or of men still more ferocious ( 36). Sir Kenneths conviction that this wild and unkempt recluse cannot be Theodorick since he is a madman is answered by an assurance from the Musl im that well sums up the mysterious power possessed by all of Scotts Elementals: T his same unholy ground in which the Evil One hath more than ordinary power is Theodoricks own domain: when he leads the two riders deeper into the waste, he does so with 25 Compare Theodoricks first appearance with Ben Gunns, the peculiar Ge nius of the Place in Treasure Island: From trunk to trunk the creature flitted like a deer, running manlike on two legs, but unlike any man that I had ever seen, stooping almost double as it ran. Yet a man it was, I could no longer be in doubt about that (79).
114 uncanny proficiency, well acquainted with all the winding dells and passe s of the desert, and gifted with uncommon activity, which, perhaps, an unsettled state of mind kept in constant exercise (38, 47). Athletic yet wasted, like Edie the Old Tree, he leads them to the opening of his cave dwelling, standing at the entrance w ith a sulphurous torch, yet the interior is less like hell than a monastery or church, with a cool temperature, waxen torches, and a niche for a rude statue of the Virgin (46, 48). But while the Muslim sleeps, Theodorick leads Kenneth further into the cave, and thus into mysteries of the landscapeas the space of the novel, which had recently turned from Dante esque Hell to quiet monks cell, now transforms into a full blown Gothic chapel: whereas, in every other place which Sir Kenneth had seen, the labour employed upon the rock had been of the simplest and coarsest description, it had in this chapel employed the invention and the chisels of the most able architects. The groined roofs rose from six columns on each side, carved with the rarest skill; and the manner in which the crossings of the concave arches were bound together, as it were, with appropriate ornaments, were all in the finest tone of the architecture of the age. (56) Enshrined in this hallowed space, which comes complete with Go thic door, ornate carvings and a choir of female voices strange accompaniment for a hermit monk! is a fragment of the true cross of Christ. This first featured landscape in The Talisman is one whose rapid alteration signals changes in genre and mood, shi fts which Sir Kenneth is illequipped to keep up with or, in essence, to read. It is not merely that the reader has been taken from the harshest exterior space to a cool, decorous and even luxurious interior space, but that space and narrative have moved in a chapter from the scene of the temptation to the Actual Presence, from Inferno to Paradiso. What is important to note here is that Theodorick, the Elemental, has made this possible. He knows the secret of the desert and of the caves, and he has the power in the narrative of proclaiming the unholy ground holy. He is no more an organic growth of the Syrian setting which, of course,
115 Scott never visited than Sir Kenneth, and is in fact more mythic and archetypal than anything else. But he has been summ oned or conjured, as it were, by an invocation to elemental forces, in a scene pregnant with theological and cultural symbolism, and he has the power to transform this scene, his own domain, into its metonymic inverse.26Its worth noting again the similarities between Theodorick and Edie Ochiltree: b oth are aged but robust figures, unnaturally strong and spry. Both are beggars with strong links to Catholicism. Both lead the less discriminating heroes to caves which connect, by var ious mysterious windings, w ith Gothic structures Both characters connect with the scenery and with ideas and constructs invested in the scenery, even though one draws from a Scottish landscape and period that Scott remembered, and the other from a stylized representation of an anci ent Middle East Scott never saw. Theodoricks role in The Talisman is important but brief; the role of Dickie Sludge in Kenilworth is much more substantial. A bizarre hobgoblin boy better known throughout the novel as Flibbertigibbet, Sludge might be considered the first in a long line of dwarf characters in historical novels whose physical grotesquerie is compensated by unnatural knowledge, often mischievously employed.27 26 The explicit link between the Elemental and the elements occurs elsewhere in Scott, as in Charles IIs comment about the Elemental character Fenella in Peveril of the Peak: she is like a fairy who trips it in moonlight. There must be more of air and fire than of earth in her composition ( 390 ). Although not mysterious enough to be an Elemental, Wayland Smith nevertheless riva ls the Elementals genius for overlapping categories, as I indicated earlier. But 27 Although Scotts first version of this character is really the goblin page of his poem, Lay of the Last Minstrel, scarce an earthly man but an earthly spirit, who demonstrates his unnatural quickness covering the same forest ground as Lord Cranstoun (3:31, 5:13). Of course, Flibbertigibbet also builds upon earlier Scott characters like The Black Dwarf s Canny Elsh ie and the historical Old Mortality. Victorian authors especially delighted in this manifestation of the Elemental character. The Tower of Londons dwarf Xit serves many bizarre and ridiculous turns as the novels comic relief, yet is also peculiarly fam iliar with all of the Towers twists and turns. In James Forest Days, the monkeylike Tangel shows uncanny knowledge both of Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle, and functions as the godlike Robin Hoods own dark (T)angel in many scenes.
116 Wayland cannot complete all the tasks required by the novels complicated plot without help enter the Elemental. Sludge first appears as Tressilians guide to Smiths hidden forest forge and laboratory, and is described as a queer, shambling, ill made urchin of stunted growth and grotesque sneer (92 93). Along the way he jokes and jabs Tressilian repeatedly about leading him to the devil, since Sludge is Wayland Smiths confederate in maintaining the usefully evil reputation of an invisible and occult smith. Unlike Wayland, who soon drops his Gothic flavored disguise, Sludges goblin and devil associations remain with him throughout the novel, emphasizing both his otherworldliness and puckish sense of mischief Sludge brings Tressilian to Smiths stone circle (always an emblem in Scott for a complex and layered landscape space) and teases him by calling the spaces exterior features by interior names: the stone circle is Wayland Smiths forge door, the flat stone is Wayland Smiths counter, and so on (96). When Tressilian tries to punish him for what he takes to be a practical joke or worse, he displays an elemental facility with the forest space and a demons propensi ty to torment: [He] presently took to his heels across the heath, with a velocity which baffled every attempt of Tressilian to overtake him, . Nor was it the least provoking part of the urchin's conduct, that he did not exert his utmost speed, like one who finds himself in danger, or who is frightened, but preserved just such a rate as to encourage Tressilian to continue the chase, and then darted away from him with the swiftness of the wind, when his pursuer supposed he had nearly run him down .. This lasted until Tressilian, from very weariness, stood still, and was about to abandon the pursuit with a hearty curse on the illfavoured urchin, who had engaged him in an exercise so ridiculous. But the boy, who had, as formerly, planted himself on the top of a hillock close in front, began to clap his long, thin hands, point with his skinny fingers, and twist his wild and ugly features into such an extravagant expression of laughter and derision, that Tressilian began half to doubt whether he had not in view an actual hobgoblin. (96 97)
117 Sludge further taunts Tressilian that he alone knows the whereabouts of a nearby tarn, and that if Tressilian takes to his horse to try to catch him, there is a marsh hard by would swallow all the horses of the Queen 's guard. I will into it, and see where you will go then (97). Most of Sludges chiding of Tressilian is explained by his and Smiths being in on the same joke the stone circle really is the door to the underground laboratory and forge, the flat stone is really where customers leave their money but Sludge particularly delights in taunting customers with occult warnings and Gothic hints (you will soon hear the tack of a hammer that was never forged of earthly iron; no man lives that looks on him [Smi th] (98 99). D espite their partnership as faux conjurors in Chapter Ten, Wayland Smith and Flibbertigibbet differ qualitatively, as the subsequent action bears out. Ive argued that there is always some mystification about the capable reader of space, an d indeed Smith s easy familiarity with disguise, language, forest and city space baffles Tressilian and surprises the reader. But Flibbertigibbets proficiency baffle s even Wayland Smith. When he and Amy Robsart join a group of players on the road to Kenil worth Castle, Dickie Sludge is already among them, dressed as a devil (what else?). When the couple is initially turned away at the castle gate by a mock giant part of Kenilworth s extended focus on performance and spectacle Sludge gains them entrance by joining in the drama and prompting the gigantic porter with his forgotten lines. Its a scene that points out both his unnatural knowledge and his easy trans navigation of genre : He dropped down from the horse, and skipping up to the porter, plucked him by the tail of the bearskin, so as to induce him to decline his huge head, and whispered something in his ear. Not at the command of the lord of some Eastern talisman did ever Afrite change his horrid frown into a look of smooth submission more suddenly than the gigantic porter of Kenilworth relaxed the terrors of his looks at the instant Flibbertigibbet's whisper reached his ears. It is even so, he said, with a thundering sound of exultation it is even so, my little dandieprat. But who the devi l could teach it thee? (260261) Set in Elizabeths England, with Catholicism and hence superstition presumably in retreat, the problem of Dickie Sludges knowledge is dealt with less directly and more playfully than
118 Theodoricks in the epic surroundings of The Talisman. But both his half sinister impishness and his unaccountable understanding align this character with other Elementals, as does his link with the novels various spaces: he flits freely and easily throughout the unreal mummery of Kenilworth, warning Wayland that he is determined by mysterious means to be at the bottom of all your secrets, were they as deep and dark as the Castle dungeon ( 261). Through his intervention Wayland enters the castle, but through his interference Wayland loses Amy Robsarts letter to Leicester, thus bringing on the climax of the novel. Both Theodorick and Flibbertigibbet are thus well in keeping with Allens initial c haracterization of the elemental, a half mad or at least provokingly eccentric, elusive, haunting character, on the verge in many senses including the elemental, whose actions significantly affect the resolution of the story. Yet they are also characte rs whose interaction with historical novel spaces hints at the limitations of rational or conventional knowledge. Like Edies knowledge of a remote Catholic past; like Madge Wildfires doubtful, uncertain, and twi light sort of rationality (295) which yet kens both space and genre, the roads and forests as well as the ballad and folk tale; like Guy Mannerings Meg Merrilies, whose curses and prophecies are as accurate as her uncanny knowledge of all the secret places on the Ellangowan estate; and like also in differing degrees, Norna from The Pirate Lady Hermione from The Fortunes of Nigel the White Lady from The Monastery and others all have ways of merging with the text of space in Scotts novels, becoming contact points between space/time and human beings, the inevitable and the perishable, the universal and the mortal. A word needs to be said regarding the precognitive powers often possessed by various Elemental characters, since soothsayers and prophets who predict accurately found their way into t he Victorian historical novel and beyond in abundance. The ethos of the historical novel
119 demands a constant backward looking and speculative groping into the murky and distant past. The author, part historian and part tapestry restorer, must find an aut horitative grasp of his subjects and timeline (or at least appear to have one) and be able to distinguish the sharper outlines and bolder colors in the mist. The looking back into obscurity for even a well documented era is obscure and the bringing forward into narrative cohesion and clarity make up the magical powers so often granted to the successful historical novelist: to Scott, the Wizard of the North, and to those who followed. The authors througha glass darkly exercise of scrutiny and speculation i s thus mirrored by some Elemental characters whose knowledge extends mysteriously forward, who peer into the obscure future back at the novelist and reader. Often the soothsayers and prophets, insane or believed to be insane by other characters, are anothe r means of demonstrating the links between past and present: when a soothsayer looks forward the event predicted is only another fact looked back to by the author, revealing a histo rical link between author and setting In one way, therefore, the Elem ental as prophet or supernatural foreseer of events emphasizes historical continuity, thus arguing for order and rationality.28What Allen has noted in the Elementals I suggest, i s not so much an innate channeling or representation of locality in this kind of character, but Scotts signaling that the palimpsest of historical novel space is also outside reason and inexplicable in terms of reason (Allen 133), where reason equals verifiable or empirical knowledge. Neither the spaces nor the Elementals In another way their divinations hint at sublime powers unaccountable i n the world of pure rationalization, yet just as real and just as powerful. Scott never explains them, says Walter Allen of Edie, Madge and Meg, and they are the more powerful for that (133). 28 For some Vi ctorian instances, an unnamed witch predicts Vesuvius eruption in Bulwer Lyttons Last Days of Pompeii (1834). In Ainsworths The Tower of London, soothsayer Gunnora Braose predicts Lady Jane Greys downfall, the climax of the novel. In his Old Saint Paul s (1843), Solomon Eagle prophecies the London fire that will destroy the old cathedral, his elemental base, which he haunts like Quasimodo does Notre Dame de Paris. Lady Tiphaine predicts the British Empires wide expanse in Conan Doyles The White Company (1891).
120 can be understood in terms of ratio grasped by logical steps though there are hints that they are both i ntellectus grasped by a higher, intuitive understanding. And if as I argue, the successful reading of space implies a correct interpretation or acquisition of knowledge for most characters, the Elementals seemingly instinctive or preternatural links with space introduce an epistemological problem into the Waverley Novels scheme of knowing. Like the prophecies and predictions which they often pro claim and the events of the novels bear out, the Elementals and their spatial connection suggests that knowledge can be gained by other and more mysterious means than by observation and deduction. As such t hey are a challenge to order realism and level he adedness, and thus to the compensatory coolness and confidence of the voice of the typical historical novels narrator.
121 CHAPTER 4 ARCHITECTURAL INCONGRUITIES: HISTORY AND THE SPACE OF CONTRAST IN THE NOVELS OF W. H. AINSWORTH Despite success an d celebrity in the nineteenth century and continued readership into the twentieth, William Harrison Ainsworth (1805 1882) has become little more than a footnote to other literary careers: Dickens, Thackeray, Cruikshank, Forster, Disraeli, Mrs. Henry Wood. But there was a moment in the eighteen thirties when he looked like the next new thing. In George J. Worths account, an accident of chronology placed him between Scotts death and Dickens popular ascent (26). Beginning with a Gothic flavored rogue novel in 1834 and proceeding through a string of very successful historical novels in the eighteenforties, Ainsworth cashed in on the vacuum Scott left behind by enthusiastically intermixing genres in his novels. As I have suggested, however, critics who have seen in him merely a poor Scott imitator have not paid enough attention to the transitory state of novel subgenres in his day and the palimpsestic narrative of the historical novel in particular: the same readers who bit Scotts hand for including a ghost in The Monastery in 1820 were lapping up Ainsworths strange Gothic Newgatehistorical concoctions in the late eighteen thirties. As I indicated earlier, Waverley space is more technical than geographical, a space that lends itself to manipulation, where ideas are worked out and arguments are made. Franco Morettis identification of spaces with border regions and shifting meanings is intrinsically right, then, even though the same compromised borders and hybrid associations may inf orm the depiction of London, such as occurs in The Fortunes of Nigel or Peveril of the Peak The space of the historical novel may well be within Austens heart of England, therefore, so long as the spatial palimpsest remains effective. The idea of layerin g the palimpsest within urban settings, so rarely practiced by Scott, became the central ide fixe for one of his immediate successors, William Harrison Ainsworth, who brought to the form not only a long abiding interest in the
122 built spaces of cities and m onuments, but also a remarkably different vision of history to inform those spaces. In this chapter I argue that Ainsworths peculiar, often unsettling combination of marvelous elements and painstaking historical detail proceeds from his own understanding of the palimpsest narrative, as well as from a vision of history that celebrates its touristic and spectacular elements rather than its cause and effect relationships. While criticism has accounted for much that is puzzling in Ainsworths novels merely by citing poor craftsmanship, I suggest that his novels are as suited as Scotts to demonstrate the generic amalgam always at the center of the historical novel because of their obsessive focus on and around architectural space. In Ainsworths novels, the rel ationships between fictional and actual buildings, between imagined tunnels and crypts and historical public places signal interactions between different types of information much as they do in Scott, only they are most frequently urban and built spaces. T he geography has changed as has the historical ethos, but the spaces function in much the same way. Its worth pausing to remember Scotts historical vision and to comment on his own sparse depiction of built environments. Those attributes of Waverley space I have discussed so far, the instability, fluidity and uncertainty that reflect the narrative mixture at work in the novels, do not imply that Scotts vision of history is cataclysmic or shot through with metaphysics or chance. Rather, the sublime or s upernatural forces that seem at work in Scotts spaces, as well as the Elemental characters who remain conversant with such forces, only introduce troublesome caveats into Scotts view of history: his is still a progressive and forward looking historical process, but one pocketed with doubt and disclaimers. Even a narrative so concerned with progress as The Heart of Midlothian expresses a guarded optimism, Scotts particular kind of
123 progressivism that is everywhere qualified though not explicitly denied (Duckworth 113, 117). That critics so often focus on the progress narrative in Scott points out, I suggest, their taking his rational narrator at face value. The Author of Waverley has chuckled over past superstition and lectured on the functions of historical spaces, but all the while the secret tunnels and the Edie Ochiltrees who know them have undermined his version of knowledge the version that seems the most trustworthy and makes the most sense to criticism. So when George A. Drake seeks to draw long due attention to a novel like The Fortunes of Nigel and the urban spaces it depicts, his analytical plea takes for granted the historicity of Scotts rural scene: At times, Scott historicizes space more fully in the collapsed, hybrid spaces of his urban scenes than even in his more highly varnished Scottish landscapes (416). But Scotts varnished Scottish rural scenes are not so historical, as Ive argued, and granting their focus on manmade structures and the residue of spatial practicethe admitte dly greater historical quotient of Scotts urban spaces should make us ask why he chose to depict them so rarely. In other words, if Scotts spatial imagination was as preoccupied with layering history into space as is often assumed, why does he spend so l ittle time recording the cityscape, the obvious place to look? Why is his urban site so often either missing (like the Heart of Midlothian prison) or rendered inauthentically or even cartoonishly (Kenilworth Castle, Whitefriars)? On the contrary, his choice to focus most often on the marginal space, the rural space without a history, indicates his preoccupation with layering extra historical narratives into the scene: folk narratives, metaphysical narratives, narratives of masculine heroism and chivalric decline. None of these equate with the historical as we understand it, but their layers blend with Scotts historical understanding and carefully juxtaposed facts to build a convincingly felt historical world.
124 The extant and remarkable urban sites Sco tt avoided drew the constant, admiring gaze of his successor, W. H. Ainsworth, however, and the result (counter to our intuitive expectations, perhaps) was not more but less historically faithful. Ainsworths contributions to the Victorian historical novel have been variously characterized as being pale imitations of Scotts work, costume romances with no real historical conceptualization, or Gothic novels featuring only the trappings of historical epochs. He ranks high on critics lists of debasers and t ainters, bringing not only inferior art, but impure motives to the presumably pure form created by Scott (Tillotson 140). Critics reduce his preoccupation with Englands monuments in novels like The Tower of London (1839), Old Saint Pauls (1841), and Wi ndsor Castle (1843) to a reliance upon castles, subterranean tunnels, and other creaking machinery of the Gothic novel, leading to his exclusion from serious consideration of historical novelists. While Ainsworths affinity for the Gothic is indisputable, the assumption that it relegates his work to the fringes of the discussion is incorrect, not only because the Gothic novel is itself a mode of history, a way of perceiving an obscure past and interpreting it (Punter, qtd in Mitchell 85), but mainly because the historical novel is understood to be an all purpose fiction by its first generations of readers, capable of channeling Gothic components and many others within its rhetoric of contrasts (Moretti 177). More importantly, Ainsworths historic str uctures and Gothic ized cityscapes are not merely his favorite settings: they show how the landscapes and built environments of the historical novel mirror the authors attitudes about genre and narrative, approaches to history and epistemological assumptio ns. Where Scott had built from an organic, guardedly optimistic understanding of history (and produced a compromised rural space to match it), Ainsworths touristic vision of history as a spectacle, of the past as a dramatic and vivid place to take his r eaders, led him to focus on the jarring, irregular, categorically bewildering space of the city and,
125 in particular, on the recognizable history books within their midst: the monument, the landmark, the royal residence, the national treasure. One might say Ainsworth was not looking for causes but he was constantly on the watch for effects; history in his novels thus becomes less cerebral and more tangible, sensual, and experiential. This touristic view of history, as well as this greater confidence in the ex perimental qualities of the genre, play out in Ainsworths urban spaces: historical novel space continues to function as a space of ideas, but the ideas have changed. By Ainsworths heyday the 1830s and 40s the popularity of Scotts novels had helped re es tablish the novel as the dominant literary form, and the historical novel as a particularly epic, manly and healthful variation of it. Scotts currency also inspired the emergence of a printed criticism that took the novel seriously, that earnestly attempt ed to set down for it solid aesthetic principles. Small wonder that the eighteen twenties and thirties saw critics drawing sharp distinctions between the many sub genre pigeonholes of the novel Gothic revivals, silver fork novels, Newgate novels, conditionof England novels and intensely discussing what domains the different types should and should not inhabit. When it came to the historical novel, the palimpsestlike mode of the Waverley Novels with their mixture of generic forms might well complicate this classification process; instead (at least, initially) the boundary lines of representation seemed to expand rather than contract around the genre. Scotts last decade of novels had allowed more and freer generic mixture to take place, teaching his first g eneration of successors that the form was, if not rhapsodically Romantic in spirit, at least a phantasmagoria of style, genre and character. For all the taxonomic zeal of Victorian critics and commentators, flexibility and variety remained the hallmarks of the historical novel, which may account for their extremely mixed results when it came to defining the genres essence. Many primarily identified the historical novel with romance, thus emphasizing its more residual, familiar
126 elements like stylized dialog ue, type characterization, rural settings, and the focus on chivalric virtue and courtly love. Others soon sought to distinguish (from about the midcentury onwards) between recklessly nostalgic historical romances and serious (because accurately researched) historical novels. Although always a symbiosis of interdependent generic features, the historical novel tended to consist of mainly one thing or the other to its first generations of critics: it was either mostly marvelous, remote, heroic and unreal, or mostly serious, factual, well documented and quite real. That the historical novel could and should try to incorporate a bit of everything is an evident assumption for the first decades of readers after Scotts death, obvious in both the reviews of his torical fictions that praise their colorful variety and in the greater willingness of readers to accept such a mixture of generic material than had been afforded Scott himself. Scotts experiments had often met with negativity initially, not only failures like The Monastery but even phenomenal successes like Ivanhoe But early Victorian historical novelists mixed their materials with comparatively reckless abandon and met little disapprobation; on the contrary, they often garnered favorable comparisons with the Wizard of the North. In her often insightful argument for narrative annexes in Victorian novels, Suzanne Keen notes the general willingness of Victorian mainstream novelists to experiment with both genre and space, writing of the growing confidence that encourages the employment of a blend of old and new techniques, and inspires more ambitious and more diverse representation (181). Keen finds evidence of the Victorians creative breaching of borders in space temporarily in annexes, within a wide range of novelistic kinds, [suggestive of their] flexible worldmaking and worldaltering powers (181). But the historical novel that had always taken part in this blending of genre and not necessarily within temporary, incongruous annexes but within the main space of
127 the text, both literal and representational are not part of Keen s convincing account of the bizarre shifts in tone and modality found in many mainstream novels. Her sidestepping of the historical novel (essentially reaffirming the late Victorian characterization of the genre as digressive, disorganized, and chiefly preoccupied with the unrealities of romance1Vivid Contrasts: Ainsworths Popular History ) allows her to maintain focus on annexes as tiny and te mporary workshops, but only at the expense of the most aggressive experim ental sites of genre and subgenre: the early Victorian historical novel. Within their fictional worlds, Scotts immediate successors were kept busy hammering together the materials he left behind, resulting in elaborate, often bizarre, yet nevertheless in fluential constructions. Andas in Scott, as in Keens annexes the generic and epistemological symbiosis informing these efforts is reflected in their spaces, places, and landscapes. In the novels of W. H. Ainsworth, this means predominantly an urban space a cityscape dotted with magnificent relics of past glory. In William Harrison Ainsworth George J. Worth accounts for Ainsworths early popularity in part by citing his multigeneric approach: he was in a uni que position to avail himself of three important literary traditions which were either at or just past their peak: those of the historical novel, the Gothic novel, and the rogue novel (26). He also incorporated elements of the fashionable novel and no doubt unconsciously went outside the novel altogether in borrowing for use in his fiction many melodramatic devices of the theater of his day (2627). Worths description almost suggests that Ainsworth participates in these literary 1 In an interesting reversal of their own rhetoric about Scott, Keens discussion of the historical novel is mostly confined to disparagements of Scotts seemingly unhealthy influence on the Victorians. In many cases a bizarre episode or star tling turn in a plot does not indicate a narrative annex, but simply the ineradicable trace of the writers love for Walter Scott (15). She congratulates Victorian novelists for blending old writers and styles, even though they may have unwittingly imb ibed their Spenser in deep draughts of Walter Scott (181). In short, Keens thesis seems to keep bumping into Scott and the historical novel but does not include them in the genre transforming effects of the renovations of the novel she is describing.
128 traditions discr etely, and certainly some of his novels are more one thing than another: Jack Sheppard (1839) is mostly a rogue novel, Auriol (1865) mostly a Gothic But nearly all of his forty plus novels feature historical settings or contain some attempt at historical periodization, whether they feature historical characters prominently, examine the effects of historical events on fictional characters, or employ history as period setting for wholly fictional narratives. More importantly, the blueprint for the historical novel Scotts popular Waverley series had also incorporated elements from different kinds of novel and went outside the novel altogether for other elements, as Ive demonstrated. Ainsworth does seem to show a rather more reckless tendency towards generi c and tonal instability than Scott or most other historical novelists. He shifts suddenly from scenes of Gothic horror to scenes of farce or even slapstick, from dramatic love scenes to flat historical reporting; ghosts intrude upon historical monarchs in the manner of a ballad, while heroic characters meant to engage reader sympathy are made the butts of crude comedy. But he and his early readers obviously understood the historical novel to be a catchall genre, flexible and polymorphous, and the enthusias m with which he stirred the pot of style and modality is well in keeping with his own carnival esque, waxworks vision of history and its uses. Ainsworth won widespread acclaim for Rookwood in 1834, a romantic account of legendary highwayman Dick Turpin. Although Ainsworth claimed it was a conscious imitation of Radcliffe style Gothic Rookwood was nevertheless a hybrid: Gothic houses and crypts, Newgate characters and thieves cant, historical details, places accurately described or wholly invented, fic titious incidents which became invented traditions (such as the famous Ride to York), and a parcel of soonto be popular songs. Far from being troubled by this generic swirl, Ainsworths readers and reviewers delighted in it: one reviewer at The Spectator praised its great vigour and wonderful variety, while another saw in Dick Turpins thrilling ride an
129 image of the readers course as he leaps the abrupt gaps and turns the picturesque corners of this singular tale (qtd in Ellis 1: 256). Ainsworths 1911 biographer, S. M. Ellis, beams over the success of Rookwood in terms which make its appealing vivid contrasts of genre and mood clear: The book was an instantaneous success and took the town by storm, primarily by its quaint originality and extreme unconventionality the blending of the natural with the supernatural, the sober realities of everyday life combined with the fantastic imaginings of weird romance . Here was a vivid contrast of sensations which proved irresistible to the reading publ ic, long since heartily sick of the dreary stream, which had deluged the country for the past ten years, of Tales of Fashionable Life, . (Ellis 1: 255) However much late Victorian critics equated the historical novel with marvelous romance, however much twentieth century critics focused on its realistic components, readers of the eighteen thirties understood and reveled in the fluid representations possible within its pages. Rookwood was a true popular success, a novel that cut across the classes as The Pickwick Papers would do a few years later, and Ainsworth was both thrilled and mystified by an approval manifested not only in glowing reviews and impressive sales but also in numerous stage adaptations, his portrait pasted on omnibuses, and the sudden emergence of a tourist trade along Turpins York road route a route, and a ride, which Ainsworth invented (Ellis 1: 237238, 258). Ainsworth followed Rookwood with the meticulously researched Crichton (1837), but a scholarly approach to reconstructing t he past especially the French past! did not win him the same wide popular readership as his novelization of ballad and chapbook outlawry (Ellis 1: 327328). His next novel Jack Sheppard (1839) returned to legendary criminals, becoming the most controversia l of the Newgate school and winning the same broad success as Rookwood. Like its predecessor, Jack Sheppard played fast and loose with genre and mood, and generated tourist interest in its alleged locations (Ellis 1: 355 358).
130 By 1839 Ainsworth was already bowing to Dicken s popularity, writing to a relation that by common consent [Dickens] has been installed in the throne of letters vacated by Scott (qtd in Ellis 1: 346). But he felt sure he had learned the right formula for continued success in the new decade: popular historical subjects ostentatiously displayed, with enough veracity to satisfy the educated reader but enough pageantry and broad humor to please the groundlings. Although he certainly shared Scotts antiquarian impulses and inter est in obscure historical details, Ainsworth would never attempt to introduce unfamiliar situations and subjects into his novels as Scott had to his English readers with his Scottish stories; he would never rummage obscure history for the cover of darkness as Scotts various personas admit doing. Rather, he would detail, even explode moments from a past already familiar to his readers; he would drum upon tonic chords in the national anthem. Such a set of guiding principles was perfectly in step with the historical novels focus on the making of nationand in particular, with the making of a picturesque history of England, described by Rosemary Mitchell as an attempt to incorporate the everyday lives, customs, and habits of the British people, and the phys ical remains of the national past into the dominant national narrative (111). In her study of illustrated representations of British history, Picturing the Past, Mitchell goes a long way toward accounting for Ainsworths early popularity by situatin g his novels within this popular, and distinctly unscholarly, historiographic movement. Her appraisal recognizes more than just Romanticism in Ainsworths novels, linking their interest in costume, pageantry, and spectacle with the budding tourism and heri tage movements in the first half of the nineteenth century, and with a new historical awareness that proved a democratizing force not only in its choice of subject matter but also in its large audience and wide impact: it was not the preserve of a social or scholarly elite (2).
131 Mitchell does not, however, address the continuity of location and structure evident throughout Ainsworths work, nor does she comment extensively upon the generic mixture that such represented spaces reflect. Ainsworth would have learned the value of tangible, tourable historical settings from the local tourism generated by his versions of Turpin and Jack Sheppard. From his own wide readership (and from Dickens example) he learned the value of finding common denominators in style and in subject, and of offering as wide a variety of mood and subject as possible. In his plan for the unrealized 1836 series The Lions of London, Ainsworth expresses an abiding concern that his fiction feature something for everyone, his narratives frami ng and containing a vivid contrast (in Elli s pet phrase) such as had contributed to Rookwoods success. He intended to meld past and present, drama and humor, historical learning and Gothic effect, into one affordable, serial publication: to present a vivid contrast of subjects a tragic, historical novel combined with humour of the Pickwickian style (Ellis 1: 310). Mitchell points out how this proposed series, a sort of story tale guide b ook to old and new London (95), demonstrates the past/present duality of vision already noted in Ainsworths novels by Worth: Ainsworth views his historical backgrounds with a kind of double vision: seeing them as they were at some period in the past and contrasting them with their present, usually debased, appearance (Worth 72). This characteristic technique of both Gothic and picturesque modes of description also informs the illustrations for Ainsworths Tower of London and Old Saint Pauls, both of which derive from this abortive project (Mitchell 95). But in adapting his own versions of palimpsest narrative and spaces, Ainworths would necessarily have been a multiplicity or fragmenting of vision rather than a duality. His confidence that the histori cal novel could contain a diversity of generic elements is more evident than Scotts, and gets mirrored in his spatial representations; so also does his sense of history as a
132 collection of famous, novel or picturesque fragments, whose gathering together in the novel foregrounds differences between past and present rather than revealing similarities. Like Victor Hugo, Ainsworth held that famous historical structures and monuments are history: tangible, visible, and visitable. Suitably, his novels most often encounter that history in touristic fashion, neglecting the search for causality we find in Scott, focusing instead on historys sensational marginalia the dramatic moment, the dazzling tableau, the grisly execution. The readers of his novels of history and of space are tourists, often quite literally. They are introduced to celebrated extant locations where sensational events have played out and will play out, locations that Ainsworths audience could visit and verify for themselves. Where Scott had been vague, where he conflates different places or imaginatively rebuilds famous sites from the ground up, Ainsworth remains literal, specific, even exactly measured whether reenacting key historical scenes in fully visualized tableaux or creating new scenes inspired by actual spaces (Mitchell 109). But he also riddles historical locations with secret and subterranean spaces to contain Gothic subplots, literally walling off one genre from another. With a version of the historical novel that owes as much to Hugo as to Scott, Ainsworth equates narrative with architectural structure and builds within, around, and beneath history, bringing his readership a touristic and popular experience of history in the round. Basic Strategies: Structure Organizing Narrative In Ainsworths historical novel the standard equipment is the physical, architectural structure; it is the building block of his version of historical novel space, both the occasion and paradigm for narratives. Whether spatially complicated structures lik e the Tower of London or ordinary houses and taverns, at the most basic level of storytelling and plot construction Ainsworth uses the exterior situation of buildings, the interior layout of rooms, the character of the built environment and the relationshi ps between different structures to direct narrative. In his
133 most famous declaration of such methods, Ainsworth uses the original Preface to The Tower of London to describe his favorite project of exhibiting the Tower in its triple light of a palace, a prison, and a fortress [and endeavoring] to contrive such a series of incidents as should naturally introduce every relic of the old pile,its towers, chapels, halls, chambers, gateways, arches, and drawbridges so that no part of it should remain unillustrated. (George Barrie and Sons Edition vii) Chapter titles from The Tower demonstrate Ainsworths painstaking specificity when it comes to the monument and his determination to visit every possible location within its walls: Of the Mysterious Occurrenc e that happened to Queen Jane in Saint Johns Chapel in the White Tower, How Gilbert escaped from the By ward Tower How Jane was Imprisoned in the Brick Tower, What Befell Cicely in the Salt Tower and so on. Ainsworths obvious agenda here, the way he contrives to lead his narrative through the separate spaces of the Tower seemingly with the sole purpose of illustrating them, have led to his novels being dismissed as archaeological handbooks or obsessive architectural researches (Sanders 33). As noted above, both The Tower and the equally popular Old Saint Pauls owe much of their architectural/spatial overdetermination to the abortive Lions of London project, and are best evaluated with their accompanying illustrations. But whatever extra emphas is these collaborative projects award to certain structures, using built spaces to organize narratives both historical and fictional is common practice throughout Ainsworths work, as indeed are the tropes of designing and constructing buildings to represe nt the craft of fiction writing. His reliance upon buildings for narratives and their multiplicity of functions in his work must owe in part to his original fondness for Gothic fiction, but he is engaged in more than simply converting real historical spaces into flexible or liquid Gothic spaces, more than turning national landmarks into Gothic castles as Stephen Carver has it (Tower paragraph 4). While he regards his fiction as contributing to the renovation of a Gothic structure of romance in an of t cited passage (which I
134 examine below), its worth looking briefly at the way the most basic buildings and structures in Ainsworth organize plots and events or assist in developing characters and emphasizing themes.2One of Ainsworths last significantly popular novels, The Flitch of Bacon, or The Custom of Dunmow (1854) is a good place to see a fictional building organizing the plot of an otherwise hectic, untidy narrative. Inspired by an Essex country custom (mentioned in Chaucer) that awards a flitch or gammon of bacon to any married couple in the village of Dunmow who can live without a cross word for the space of a year, this strange but oddly charming period piece has been considered one of Ainsworths most disorganized novels. Noting its lack of f ocus and generic inconsistencies, George J. Worth writes: we cannot be certain whether we are concerned primarily with a pastoral novel in which two rustic couples vie for a legendary token of marital fidelity and happiness, or with the Gothic story of Sir Walter Fitzwalter and his grim life at the gloomy, haunted house which becomes the inn of the Dunmow Flitch. (4647) But Worth cites the cure even as he complains of the diseasethe pastoral/ Gothic novel is organized and unified by the inn/haunted house, the mostly fictitious, titular public house called the Dunmow Flitch.3The house had once been the most important home in Dunmow but was abandoned and sold by Sir Walter Fitzwalter following the alleged suicide of a wife he erroneously believed unfaithful. A ghostly female figure resembling Lady Fitzwalter is sometimes seen in one particular room, in a deserted wing of the house (7). Supposed to be haunt ed by the locals, then, The reader learns right away that the two main narratives of the novel are linked in this building. 2 My purpose in pointing out these narrative tendencies in more mundane settings is to demonstrate that structures are standard story telling equipment for Ainsworth, that he employs them deliberately to organize contrasting genres, tones, and types of inf ormation. Although not marginal nor rural spaces, they are Ainsworths version of flexible and fluid Waverley space. 3 Ellis confirms the existence of a Flitch Inn in Dunmow though it is not the picturesque, rambling building imagined by Ainsworth (2: 200). The inn apparently changed its character somewhat to take advantage of the renewed interest in the custom generated by Ainsworths novel.
135 for some time no one would inhabit it; it was, at last, converted into an inn, and was taken by Jonas Nettlebed immediately after his first marriage (6). Nettlebed and his wife Nelly form the comic half of the pastoral story in th e novel, a BeatriceBenedick couple to oppose the sentimental Frank and Rose Woodbine. Accordingly, while the public spaces of the inn become the idealized rural setting for their strained attempts to contend for the Flitch, the deserted wing helps devel op the Gothic side of the story in fact, its layout makes the Gothic story possible. When the inns former owner Sir Walter returns in disguise (this authorial character, a sort of bastardized Sir Walter Scott in name, turns up with the amusingly appropria te alias, Doctor Plot) to moralise upon the vanities of the world, he takes a morose interest in both the awarding of the Flitch and the stories of the inns ghostly inhabitant (30). Fitzwalter chooses the inns haunted room for his abode, allegedly to debunk the rumors, actually in hopes of meeting the ghost. The middle section of the novel explores The Haunted Chamber and its environs and reveals the Radcliffian hinges upon which the Gothic plot turns. Lady Fitzwalter lives; her ghost like facility within the house is due to the existence of a secret set of rooms, unknown to either Sir Walter or Jonas. Lady Fitzwalters haunting of the chambers has been a melancholy vigil for her disgraced name to be cleared, a Shakespearian motif in keeping with others in the novel, but particularly reminiscent of the Lady Hermione subplot in Scotts The Fortunes of Nigel Like Lady Fitzwalter, Hermiones life in a secret wing of a great house generates ghostly rumors among the servants. But Hermiones hidden exis tence plays a comparatively minor part in Scotts novel, at first occasioning some light comic and Gothic effects and later providing the milieu for some cautionary exposition; although Hermione herself is an important character, her hidden residence is not. In The Flitch of Bacon, however, the secret wing of the self referential
136 inn creates the Gothic plot of the novel. Its revelation is the story, right down to its being discovered by Doctor Plot. While the separate spaces within the inn constitute generi c and tonal changes, then, this space is not a narrative annex in Suzanne Keens sense not a temporary, incongruous generic space where impermissible subjects or characters are introduced. Rather, the rustic inn with Gothic rooms reflects the coexistence of two kinds of story within the novel, a generic harmony that somehow feels inharmonious now, since critical understanding of what historical novels should do has changed. Worth also notes (and its worth noting) the man y melodramatic features in Ainsworth, the asides and soliloquies, the stage like entrances and exits from scenes: Whole chapters in any number of Ainsworths novels might, with very little change, have made effective scenes in Victorian melodramas (112). In keeping with these features, Ainsworth often employs structures to imitate the drama. Scott had woven in pockets and recesses into his rural scenes, or concealed natural steps with green sward, in the manner of fantastic opera scenery. Ainsworths stag e settings are more deliberately artificial: the layout of rooms or arrangement of buildings create a stage like ambience reflected in the characters speeches and actions, which often seem more self conscious amid such props and backdrops. The great succ ess of stage adaptations of Ainsworth novels makes it entirely possible that he had stage decorations in mind when composing these scenes; writing melodrama had been his first literary love (Ellis 1:51). In Auriol for example, Ainsworth leaves behind spe cific London streets and locations to bring the eponymous hero and heroine Ebba Thorneycroft to an old and partially demolished building (101), an imaginary ruined structure which, in addition to its echo of Gothic spaces,
137 functions as a stage, providing levels and layers for stage like effect.4expressed a wish to enter it. Auriol offered no opposition, and passing through an arched doorway, and ascending a short, spiral, stone staircase, they present ly arrived at a roofless chamber, which it was evident, from the implements and rubbish lying about, was about to be razed to the ground. On one side there was a large arch, partly bricked up, through which opened a narrow doorway, though at some height fr om the ground; With this a plank communicated, while beneath it lay a great heap of stones, amongst which were some grotesque carved heads. In the centre of the chamber was a large square opening, like the mouth of a trapdoor, from which the top of a ladde r projected, and near it stood a flaming brazier, which had cast forth the glare seen from below. Over the ruinous walls on the right hung the crescent moon, now emerged from the cloud, and shedding a ghostly glimmer on the scene. (101102) Noticing a light in the buildings upper storey, Ebba Ebba notes the strangeness of the scene text referentially, like a spot one reads of in a romance, (102) but the physical setting suggests the stage instead: the roofless structure like an upper gallery, set off from the backdrop by its arches and jagged walls, lit from below and by the theatrical crescent moon. A Hamlets Ghost voice intrudes from the pit moments later (Beware! cried a deep voice, issuing apparently from the depths of the vault), while before the scene is finished one character is snatched away by an arm thrust from the trap door (102103), making it clear that the entire scene is a setpiece, its dialogue and events cued by the structural setting. Similarly, the arrangement of buildings in Chapter Fourteen of The Star Chamber (1854) seems t o determine the tone and events of the scene. Hero Jocelyn Mounchensey and servant Dick Taverner arrive at Tottenham to find the town in midcelebration, a joyous scene of May games and Morris dances that typifies Ainsworths idealized Merry England depi ction of the British countryside. In a scene filled with theatrical masque figures like Robin Hood and the May Queen, Ainsworth carefully sets the scene in a recognizably theatrical space: a piece of 4 Anne Humphreys notes the replacement of conventional Gothic settings by ruinous urban spaces in Victorian mys teries novels (qtd in Mitchell 267 268). Ainsworth participates enthusiastically in this replacement or renovation.
138 greensward in the centre of the village, surrounded by picturesque habitations, and having, on one side of it, the ancient cross (95). The cross is a historical landmark and Ainsworth does not neglect to touch upon it in true antiquarian style. But the houses, nondescript for all their picturesqueness, mainly serve to surround the scene playing out on the green, much like the circular Elizabethan theater (and much like Scotts natural amphitheatres). One house plays an active part of the scene, however, its open oriel window suggesting the upper gallery of the stage (96). At this window appears Aveline Calveley, a Puritans daughter who becomes Mounchenseys love interest in the novel. Ainsworth fusses over perspective in the scene, taking pains to give Aveline a view of the games, Mounchensey a view of Ave line and the audience a view of all: Shrinking from the public gaze, and, perhaps, from some motive connected with religious scruples, scarcely deeming it right to be a spectator of the passing scene, this fair maiden was so placed as to be almost screen ed from general view. Yet it chanced that Jocelyn, from the circumstance of being on horseback, and from his position, was able to command a portion of the room in which she stood; and he watched her for some minutes before she became aware she was the obj ect of his regards. (9697) The theatricality of the scene becomes more pronounced when Hugh Calveley, Avelines bigoted father, appears at the window with her. Their confrontational exchange plays out before the entire dramatis personae upon the green, Hu gh addressing his daughter in a voice of thunder, calculated to reach those at a distance, while the masquers, chorus like, stop to listen and murmur displeasurably: So sonorous was the voice of the Puritan, so impressive were his looks and gestures, that his address commanded general attention. While he continued to speak, the sports were wholly stopped (102103). The dramatic qualities in the scene, while consistent with other theatrical elements in Ainsworth, seem to be ordered or determined by his c areful, minute manipulation of structure and space. The open stage area in the foreground, complete with chorus, the decorative background of period habitations, the upper gallery with ornamental
139 window where a private scene is enacted in public voices, the historical landmark in the frame, the reader as audience, watching the hero watch the heroine all are spatial elements signaling the deliberately evoked dramatic tone of the scene. Finally, from the same novel comes a superb example of Ainsworths use of a fictional structure to assist in characterization; the passage also affords us a glance at the relationship between architecture/landscape and masculine sexuality in the historical novel. Ainsworth develops a shadowy historical personage racketeer Sir Giles Mompesson, a corrupt licenser of public houses exiled in 1620into the villain of The Star Chamber the character above all others associated with the titular judgment chamber,5 5 The Star Chamber is the royal council chamber of Westminster Palace, so called because of the stars decorating its ceiling. Formed durin g the Tudor monarchy and abolished in 1641, the court of justice presiding in the Star Chamber had power to create and define the offenses it punished, a power heavily abused during the reigns of James I and Charles I (Wheeler 116). The chamber itself became a shorthand term for corrupt retribution and the courts harsh sentencing, often resulting in mutilation and torture. Scott mentions it in The Fortunes of Nigel (Chapter Sixteen). Ainsworth uses Justice Shallows line from The Merry Wives of Windsor I will make a Star Chamber matter of it (I.i.1 2) as an epigraph for his novel. and one who takes a sadistic interest in the punishments of the prisoner s he helps to send there. Seeming to lack typical human passions, particularly sexual ones, Mompesson contrasts himself with his partner in crime, the ridiculous coxcomb Sir Francis Mitchell: I have passions as well as yourself, Sir Francis; but I keep th em under subjection. I drink not I riot not I shun all idle company I have only one passion which I indulge,Revenge. You are a slave to sensuality, and pamper your lusts at any cost (269270). The novels dark avenger, Clement Lanyere, twice refers to Mompessons vengeance schemes in architectural terms, as a fabric he has been at pains to erect (301, 366). Lanyere vows to destroy the superstructure on which he has built his fortunes (301), an equation of the structure and the man that should ma ke us doubly aware of Mompessons rather extraordinary house, described in Chapter 34. The potentially respectable masculine self denial and restraint that Mompesson exhibits overtly is here, spatially, undermined.
140 A large, gloomy habitation near Fleet Bridge, Mompessons house, with its stone walls, corner turrets, ponderous door, and barred windows, might be taken as part and parcel of the ancient prison existing in this locality (223). In fact, this grim and frowning mansion faces the gateway of the prison, the muddy current of the Fleet River subterranean in Ainsworths day, and long associated with stench, disease and death at that time open to view and flowing between the two structures (223). The hous es spare interior, which corresponded with its forbidding exterior, accords with Mompessons account of himself as a man who seems to keep his passions and appetites in check, its apartments large, but cold and comfortless and, with two or three except ions, scantily furnished There was a large hall of entrance, where Sir Giles myrmidons were wont to assemble, with a great table in the midst of it, on which no victuals were ever placed and a great fire place where no fire ever burnt. (224225) But Ainsworths further description shows the house to be designed to gratify its owners one passion for sadistic revenge, and does so in terms that conflates his revenge with a troublesome fetishism. A series of corkscrew (twisted) stairs to which Sir Giles used to resort to reconnoitre the Fleet Prison reveals the house to be an extended series of shameful peepholes, as its proximity to supervising St. Pauls makes clear: When stationed at the loophole, little recked Sir Giles of the mighty cathedr al that frowned upon him like the offended eye of Heaven (225). Ainsworth draws house, prison and man together in a passage about the houses reputation: Now, as no one had a stronger interest in the Fleet Prison than the owner of that gloomy house, inas much as he had lodged more persons within it than any one ever did before him, it would almost seem that he had selected his abode for the purpose of watching over the safe custody of the numerous victims of his rapacity and tyranny. This was the general s urmise; and, it must be owned, there was ample warranty for it in his conduct. (223) As Mompesson is intimately connected with the prisonhe entered the prison when he pleased . He always appeared when least expected, and seemed to take a malicious pleasure in troubling those most anxious to avoid him so also is Mompessons house rumored to be
141 literally connected with the prison in which he exercises his strange and unwarrantable influence: It was even supposed by some of the prisoners that a sec ret means of communication must exist between Sir Gile s habitation and the jail (223224). The blurring of lines, the fluidity of space and boundary in this description of house prison man indicates Ainsworths conscious use of space/place to imply infor mation he cannot detail more explicitly a function which, again, accords well with Keens annexes, except that such spaces are main locations in Ainsworth. The unwholesome river flowing openly, almost unashamedly between the structures, the cold emptiness of the house and its secret peepholes, the rumors of secret underground passages to the prison, and Saint Pauls offended eye, together with Mompessons secret passion for revenge and uncanny facility within the prisonall combine to encode his sadisti c and perverse nature, a degenerate villainy perfectly in step with the novels larger preoccupation with the effeminacy and transgressive sexuality of James Is reign. The Fleet prisons historical association with clandestine and illegal weddings, the so called Fleet marriages for which it was most notorious,6That Ainsworth incorporated elements from melodrama into his narratives is undeniable; that he did so unwittingly as the result of poor craftsmanship or, as George Worth ascribes, no doubt unconsciously, is less credible given the manipulation of space in his fiction. Here is urban space, not the national, cultural or historical marginalia that Moretti maps, but space at the further identifies Sir Gile s house as the site of criminally, spiritually and perhaps sexually deviant behavior. Actual and fictional structures are mysteriously linked (like history and fiction) to explore questions of moral character and sexuality. 6 The Fleet marriage was an early form of false, illegal or clandestine marriage, carried out at the prison itself fo r a fee. The prison was most notorious for its s ecret and unlawful marriages performed by degraded cler gymen for less than a guinea. Women, drugged or intoxicated, could be taken there and married for their money; innocent girls could be duped into believing they were lawfully joined (Ackroyd 252).
142 heart of England transformed, stretched, hollowed out and artfully arranged to produce a conscious generic effect. These are spaces every bit as conceited as Flora MacIvors Highland backdrop, but made of different stuff: the materiel of social history made liquid and metaphorically pliable. Ainsworths popular historical ethos directed him to set his fiction within cities, but his city spaces remain as adaptable to the needs of his narrative as did Scotts wild, sublime rural locations and conflated ruins. Gothic elements are just as spatially obvious as the dramatic in Ainswor ths novels, but seem to be employed a bit more deliberately. It serves his aim of providing all purpose, multi genre fiction excellently that the real London spaces of his novels the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, St. Pauls Cathedral, St. James, the G uildhall are also massive, complexly structured places honeycombed with different rooms, levels, dungeons, and (for aught his reader knows) trapdoors and secret passageways. As the two different wings of the fictional Dunmow Flitch Inn separated two differ ent kinds of story (each genre possesses its own space), Ainsworth easily separates historical tableaux from more romantic and Gothic subplots by exploring little known spaces within monuments or creating fictional ones. Again, layering narratives historic al and otherwise into space is the typical modus operandi of the historical novel; in this, Ainsworth resembles Scott (though criticism often insists that he does not). But Ainsworths predilection for Gothic spaces proceeds from more than just a wish for variety. Rather, the Gothic space serves for him as paradigm for both fictional narrative and historical knowledge gathering. The Skillful Architect and the Gothic Structure of Romance Ainsworths employment of space to manipulate genre is not unprece dented among Victorian novelists (as Keens annexes attest), though he perhaps does so more rambunctiously than most, confident in the power of setting to bind together unlike genres and information. Such confidence in the extreme flexibility of space/plac e undoubtedly arises from his Gothic
143 predilections, the same impulse that led him to pocket the semihistorical landscape of Rookwood with sepulchral vaults and chambers of death. When Stephen Carver refers to Ainsworths turning national landmarks into Gothic castles, its a way of saying that Ainsworths historical fiction draws from these structures the same way that Gothic fiction draws from and depends on its typically fictional structures and locales. Such a paradigm, deceptively simple in Carvers formation, is actually a precarious balancing act: historiography demands accuracy and continuity, but Gothic effects depend on vagueness, uncertainty, and fragmentation. If the historical mode brings light to the past, the Gothic seeks out the shadows. While Ainsworth could not simply convert the Tower of London or Windsor Castle into Gothic spaces without sacrificing any atte mpt at historicism, the previous examples suggest some of his favorite strategies for solving such problems. Space/place could be manipulated to bind together essentially unlike categories of information, walling off Gothic from comic in The Flitch of Baco n, or tunneling from fictional to historical in The Star Chamber. Similarly, while the plot of The Tower of London may contrive to visit all the actual rooms of the fortress, it also delves underground into tunnels and dungeons that may or may not actual ly exist and which, in any case, were not open to the public. Working from memoirs and engravings, Ainsworth attempts in Old Saint Pauls to reconstruct the historical space of the old cathedral, but spends just as many pages in the vaults beneath it or in secret rooms within its walls. Within such unvisitable, unverifiable, and often imaginary spaces, more extravagant stories could play out fictional narratives that might parallel or intersect the main historical narratives at will, without depending upon the historical facts. So while Jane Grey enters the Tower of London in great ceremony at Tower Gate and Elizabeth I famously enters at Traitors Gate, Gothic soothsayer Gunnora Braose sneaks in via a secret tunnel beneath the moat. While the historical Doc tor
144 Hodges cares for plague victims on actual London streets in Old Saint Pauls the sinister, fictional coffin maker Anselm Chowles searches for treasure in the cathedral crypts. Ainsworths blending of history and fiction is often as simple as sending historical characters down fictional passageways. Given the way Ainsworths novels depend upon this careful delineation of physical spaces and boundaries, its not surprising that his most notable metaphor for the novelist is the skillful architect. Some fifteen years after its initial success, Ainsworth concludes the Preface to the 1849 edition of Rookwood with his own ruminations about the changes he sensed were taking place in romance: Romance, if I am not mistaken, is destined shortly to undergo an important change. Modified by the German and French writers by Hoffman, Tieck, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Balzac, and Paul Lacroix the structure commenced in our own land by Horace Walpole, Monk Lewis, Mrs. Radcliffe, and Maturin, but left imperfect and inharmonious, requires, now that the rubbish which choked up its approach is removed, only the hand of the skilful architect to its entire renovation and perfection. (78) Much has been made of this list as evidence of Ainsworths disinterest in the se rious historical novel; mysteriously, given Ainsworths obvious interest in old buildings and monuments, not enough has been said about the architectural paradigm that informs it. For instance, Andrew Sanders offers Scotts absence from the list as proof t hat Ainsworth was attempting a true [ Gothic ] revival, his novels bypassing Scotts achievement and returning to the less investigatory, less fluid modes of his predecessors (3435). Like many critics, Sanders aims to show how Ainsworths Gothic ism forfeits his claim to being a true historical novelist, to show how his determined preference for the Mrs. Radcliffe School perhaps explains the somewhat cavalier approach to historical fact and interpretation (35). Scotts own debt to the Gothic s aside, weve no reason to infer that his absence from this listfrom Rookwood, one of Ainsworths most overtly Gothic productions somehow
145 compromises Ainsworths participation in the historical novel. Again, such an inference depends on an idea of retaining the p ureness of the form, free from taint of less realistic genre elements, which it never really had in practice. On the other hand, the architectural metaphor not explored in Sander s interpretation of the passage (though he cursorily links the novelist with the Gothic Revival movement and its proponents, A. W. N. Pugin and John Ruskin ) crystallizes the paradigm of structure equals narrative seen throughout Ainsworths work. Novel writing means designing, building and landscaping perfection is arrived at when imperfect and inharmonious elements are not removed, but synthesized. Here is an apt model both for an author preoccupied with famous structures and especially concerned with blending styles and genres cohesively. The passage also reveals Ainsworth s own cognizance that novels were changing, that greater pains were required than in the carefree days of Rookwood, a novel written in most haphazard manner, without any fixed scheme or plot, and the fate of its characters and the solution of its mysterie s only decided upon as the work progressed (Ellis 1: 254). Romance writing was pleasant occupation then, Ainsworth writes in the same Preface (3). But in 1849, with the daunting new fictions of Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair before him and his most popular novels behind him, Ainsworth might well hope for new blueprints. Ainsworths choice of English designers seem to indicate that the structure he is helping to renovate is Gothic in character Walpole, Lewis, Radcliffe, Maturin but he also includes a g roup of continental writers who have modified the structure, most of whom are historical novelists Hugo, Dumas, Tieck, and Lacroix. He sees continuity between Gothic and historical genres and feels that historical novelists like himself are perfecting a multigeneric structure in fiction. What the recently cleared, offensive rubbish means he unfortunately does not explain, but its reasonable to suppose he envisions a cleaner synthesis of genres, a more harmonious
146 intertwining of modes than the haphaz ardly constructed Rookwood had been. Historical novels, like all other novels, now required more planning, better designs; the problem for the skillful architect was how to incorporate other genres and styles cleanly. Writing of The Tower of London, S. M. Ellis points out how the structure both inspires Ainsworth and enables him to contain and harmonize another vivid contrast of styles and moods: a vivid contrast of subjects and situations was securedfrom the banquet hall to the dungeon from the masque to the rack from the throne to the block; while the restriction of the action to the circumscribed area of the Tower preserved an uninterrupted sequence of events picturesque, dramatic, humorous, ghastly, in turn, yet forming a cohesive whole. (1: 407) Fo r Ellis, the Towers setting makes possible Ainsworths harmonizing of diverse, seemingly oppositional elements into one cohesive whole, an effect long identified with and looked for in Gothic architecture.7 7 Modern readers of The Tower of London still make use of the Towers physical space to organize the wild content of the novel; Rosemary Mitchell notes the novel achieve[s] unity by its concentration of all its action around the Tower (77) while G eorge J. Worth finds that the protagonist is the Tower: unlike a story which deals with a stage in the life of a human being, The Tower of London concerns itself with a phase in the history of a complex of buildings (60). Clearly this centrality of the structure in Ainsworths work has been noted by critics old and new, but the implications for the historical novel of this architectural paradigm h ave not been explored. The famous account of Goethes reaction to Str assberg Minster, for instance, emphasizes just such an experience. Though accustomed to associate with Gothic the indefinite, the unregulated, the unnatural, the patched up, the strung together, the superfluous, Goethe claims the cathedral made countles s details melt together into a complete whole and mass, and now, simple and grand, it stood before my eyes (qtd in Bradbury 6869). The simultaneous attraction repulsion of Gothic architecture accords well with Ainsworths morbid fascination with the viol ent past (noted by Worth and others), while the cohesion that seems to emerge from the proliferation of elaborate ornamentation and detail is both a keynote effect of the Gothic style of building and an apt description of the effect Ainsworth hoped to achi eve in his fiction. A telling passage in Old Saint Pauls may serve paradigmatically:
147 It was a bright moonlight night, and the reverend pile looked so beautiful The ravages of time could not now be discerned, and the architectural incongruities whic h, seen in the broad glare of day, would have offended the eye of taste, were lost in the general grand effect. (121) Similarly, the architectural incongruities of historical novels, or of history itself for Ainsworth, may be overlooked in the moonlight of romance. They may even contribute to the picturesque character of the general grand effect. Architecturally, spatially, their jagged multiplicity mirrors the seemingly haphazard arrangement of textual styles and generic effects found in the historical novels narrative palimpsest. Together with all his other architectural preoccupations, Ainsworths rumination about the structure of romance confirms a paradigm where physical structures suggest and inspire narratives, and where successful narratives lo ok to imitate the effects of physical structures. Buildings tell stories to romancers: their histories tell one kind of story, their ambience suggests others, their very layout, still others. The skillful architect devises a plan whereby all these stories can be narrated, and where all features can be synthesized into perfect structure. The British historical landmark was, then, much more than simply Ainsworths favorite setting. When any structure might organize his fictional narratives, when novel writing itself was for him the renovation and perfection of a structure, the historical landmark served as the perfect model for historical fiction. In the Midst of All: The Panorama in Ainsworth Not surprisingly, a recurring moment in Ainsworth is the prospect scene, the onlooker from a height surveying the landscape stretched out below. Certainly no unusual scene in an era preoccupied with sublime views and Romantic coigns of vantage, Ainsworth differs from most of his contemporaries by preferring the cityscape to the rural scene so often celebrated by the Gothic novelists and Scott. Recalling the Medieval romance, the Gothic novel had converted fine
148 rural views into emotional epiphanies, the la ndscape reflecting the sensations of the sublime and the terrible aroused by the plot: In the Gothic romance, pastoralism changes into gloomy forests and awe inspiring mountains. The natural scene now represents no sunny idea of social harmony but the underside of consciousness (Beer 57). As I have shown in previous chapters, Scott embraced some of this function of landscape but added new levels of complexity. Ainsworths prospects, however, typically feature those specific, identifiable and often extant structures of the city usually missing from the Gothic novelists or Scott. A Londoner from the eighteentwenties onward, a Mancunian before that, Ainsworth clearly understood the city as the most obviously historicized landscape, the place where visible hi storical change had occurred and was occurring, in palpable yet anxious leaps and bounds. Most of his novels view some cityscape in panorama most often London, but also his native Manchester, and Bath in the late novel Beau Nash (1879). The panorama allows Ainsworth to note particular features in the view that have changed, to compare and contrast the aesthetic effect of the imagined past to the extant present, to wax nostalgic about departed glories and urge the preservation of what remains. In his most popular novels, the panorama allows him to establish the centrality of the landmark structure in the narrative: a way of unifying the events of the novel around or within the tower, the cathedral, the castle. Finally, because of the importance of such struct ures in Ainsworth, the panorama can also become an oddly intertextual moment, an occasion in which one text can be seen, its presence felt, from another. A particular passage of description in Old Saint Pauls one of Ainsworths best plotted novels, ill ustrates the novels undeniable unity a unity not immediately evident to the reader bewildered by the tonal instability of individual scenes. In Book the Second, Chapter Six, apprentice Leonard Holt finds himself temporarily imprisoned in the cathedrals belfry; the
149 chapter is thus largely given over to a panoramic descriptive account from Holts birds eye perspective. The view of the church itself is a sublime spectacle, the broad roof of its transept stretching out to a distance of nearly two hundred feet (132). Holt gazes upon the Thames with its innumerable vessels of all shapes and sizes and the tall houses covering London Bridge; beyond the river in Southwark he notes Saint Saviours old and beautiful church; looking down into the City he notes the many church spires which shot up into the clear morning air and the fortifications and keep of the Tower that terminate the view; to the North are Finsbury fields, Smithfield, and Clerkenwell, smiling and beautiful districts which are nonethe less the chief haunts of the plague, where plague pits had been digged, and pest houses erected, until his eye finally rested upon Whitehall (133). In Holts view we find both a specific recreation of the old cathedral and a neatly compacted outline of Old Saint Pauls itself, not so much a summary of the plot as a survey of the topographical and architectural domains the novel will explore in the coming pages. Each of the buildings and locales noted become settings for episodes in the novel, from the plague pits and pest houses visited in book three, to Saint Saviours Church where Leonards beloved marries the Duke of Rochester in book four, and so on to Whitehall, not depicted until the novels climactic final book: the prospect is as much a table of contents as anything else. The City churches so carefully noted in this panorama are specially emphasized during the Great Fire scenes. The Tower of London, so celebrated by Ainsworth two years before Old Saint Pauls appeared, assumes a new prominence, a new significance as Charles II fights to defend it from the flames. Even the roof of the cathedrals transept becomes an important locale after book two as the spot where the novels Elemental, Solomon Eagle, regularly makes his appearance. As Leonard H olts gaze executes a circle, so the novels episodes may be said to revolve around St.
150 Pauls, which alternately serves various characters as rendezvous, sanctuary, prison, and treasure trove, and whose destruction by fire forms the novels final historic al scene. Thus, a scenic passage that might be easily dismissed as an indulgent lapse into nostalgia, a self conscious display of historical research, or mere padding effectively describes the essential movement of the plot as well as the literal movements of the characters throughout the environs of seventeenth century London. The novels historical structure becomes its narrative and thematic hub of the wheel. True, the old St. Pauls Cathedral at the center of this novel is an absent structure, a histor ical landmark that the tourist may not visit, tour and experience but then it is a structure peculiarly suited to organize a narrative of a lost London, a cityscape about to disappear in the Great Fire. Rosemary Mitchell notes that in Old Saint Pauls the consciousness of the destructiveness of the passage of time is most emphatic as this novel is focused on a building which had totally vanished (93). Ainsworth emphasizes this relationship in the panorama scene: Little did the apprentice think, when he looked at the magnificent scene before him, and marvelled at the countless buildings he beheld, that, ere fifteen months had elapsed, the whole mass, together with the mighty fabric on which he stood, would be swept away by a tremendous conflagration. (132) In a move learned from Scott and which becomes common to Victorian historical novelists, Ainsworth pivots between past and present features of the view, inviting the reader to visit the extant site and compare. In a move particularly Ainsworthian, howeve r, the narrator confidently prefers the past vista, proclaiming it more picturesque. At the time that Leonard Holt gazed upon the capital, its picturesque beauties were nearly at their close. In a little more than a year and a quarter afterwards, the greater part of the old city was consumed by fire; and though it was rebuilt, and in many respects improved, its original and picturesque character was entirely destro yed. It seems scarcely possible to conceive a finer view than can be gained from the dome of the modern cathedral at sunrise on a May morning It seems scarcely possible, we say, to suppose at any previous time it could be more striking; and yet, at the period under consideration, it was
151 incomparably more so. Then, every house was picturesque, and every street a collection of picturesque objects. (133) Although this former picturesque view is lost, the tourist visiting the extant spot can still imagine it, thanks to the authoritative depiction of the novelist, and to the still extant landmarks anchoring the scene. The confident intrusiveness of the narrator, pausing to point out the features of the view, must explain much of the appeal of the Ainsworth novel to his first readers. The reader is invited to partake of the extant scene and ga ther what aesthetic rosebuds he may, but for the ancient and superior vista he must rely on the narrator who seems to have been there, whose unique combination of historical knowledge and imaginative skill alone can reconstruct it.8Several such comparative scenes demonstrate Ainsworths nostalgic tendencies, including the barge procession scene from The Tower of London that allows an extended look at sixteenthcentury London scenery. In Auriol Ainsworth actually includes in a contemporary setting such an authoritative describer of the old London scene as a character: Old Parr, a dwarf who has lived from the Elizabethan to the Victorian Era through the aid of a magic elixir, comments freely on the citys d eparted charm. Viewed from the Thames, London, e ven in our own time, presents many picturesque and beautiful points; but at the period to which this chronicle refers, it must have presented a thousand more. Then, gardens and stately palaces adorned its banks; then, the spires and towers of the churches shot into an atmosphere unpolluted by smoke the ancient tavern of the Three Cranes, the Still yard; and above all, the Bridge All this has passed away. But if he have no old St. Pauls, no London Bridge, no quaint and picturesque old fabrics, no old and frowning castles, no old taverns, no old wharfs if we have none of these, we still have THE TOWER; and to that grand relic of antiquity, well worth all the rest, we shall, without further delay, proceed. (1718) Mitchell points to the scene as ea rly evidence of Ainsworths urgent sense of the dangers threatening the physical structures which were the countrys heritage, a concern he expressed in 8 The approach is markedly similar to that taken by A. W. N. Pugin in his seminal architectural study Contrasts (1836), which overlaid past reconstructions of London vistas with their contemporary, less picturesque equivalents.
152 various works throughout his career (92). What she does not remark upon is the way that this panorama both establishes the centrality of the monument to the novel and also becomes an intertextual moment, one of many instances where these marvelous books are seen in perspective to each other. Besides old St. Pauls, called here one of the finest structu res in the world, and destroyed, Ainsworth would eventually prominently feature other structures in this panorama old London Bridge in Old Saint Pauls and Auriol the Three Cranes tavern in The Star Chamber In The Tower of London, the first of Ainswort hs novels to be organized by a historic structure, this view can only be a prospective itinerary of places, of texts, that Ainsworth intends to visit with his readers. In later novels like The Star Chamber the panoramas would reflect the cumulative signi ficance acquired from Ainsworths many literary tours. Accounting it one of Ainsworths less well organized novels, Worth blames The Star Chamber s disorganization on its lack of division into parts that is, books, parts, epochs and the like as if the absence of an overt pattern makes it difficult for the author to keep lines of action in order (59). Ainsworth was fond of so dividing his novels, although as a method of ordering his narratives this seems to be an arbitrary practice at best the divisions serve different purposes from novel to novel, their titles often relating to their content only tenuously. A strong attachment to a historical structure is the only thing lacking from Ainsworths design in The Star Chamber, but this absence merely indica tes his changing organizational strategies at the time, a change reflected in the novels most prominent panorama scene. Written during a period which found Ainsworth trying to adapt to changing standards of the genre and more scientific ideas about histo ry, the novel borrows much of its form and feature from The Fortunes of Nigel making it one of his most Scott like efforts. The title refers to the
153 judgment chamber within Westminster Hall, grown notorious during James Is time, so The Star Chamber might have been Ainsworths novelistic tribute to that Medieval structure, nearly as old as the celebrated Tower itself. However, Ainsworth does not focus on Westminster Hall for any significant portion of the novel, confining his description of the chamber to one short chapter near the conclusion. So far from Westminster Hall serving as the hub of the novels narrative wheel, The Star Chamber seems to wander all over London, and well out of it, indiscriminately. This decentralization seems to bewilder the few cr itics who examine it, and who are looking for a single place/space to order the narrative as in Ainsworths earlier successes.9Set mainly in London, the novel follows hero Jocelyn Mounchensey on a lengthy trip to Hertfordshire, an occasion for Ainsworth to describe idyllic countryside scenes and pay tribute to Theobalds Palace. While depa rting the city, Jocelyn pauses on Stamford Hill to survey the city spread out before him in all its splendours and beauty (84). Many familiar notes sound in this description: the narrator again attuned to the picturesque irregularity of the crowded scene the layers of towers, belfries, spires and dwellings appearing irregular, yet homogeneous; dear to the painters and the poets eye; elaborate in ornament; grotesque in design (85). In an aside that reminds us of the nationalism often informing scenery description in the historical novel, the narrator takes time to celebrate the untainted English ness of Old London architecture as yet undisturbed by the innovations of the Italian and Dutch schools, and brought to full perfection in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth (84 85). After once again noting the absence of the In fact, The Star Chamber is one of Ainsworths most impressively ordered novels; it simply does not encounter its historical mo numents in the familiar Ainsworthian way. 9 Contrasting the unity of The Tower of London with another late novel, The Constable of the Tower (1861), Rosemary Mitchell directly attributes the novels disorder to its wandering geographical setting: [ The Tower ] does achieve unity by its concentratio n of all its action around the Tower. The Constable meanwhile, shifts between London, Sudeley, Whitehall, and Windsor (277).
154 Victorian canopy of smoke in this golden age, Ainsworth points out and thus, points back to the glories of his previous novels before discovering Westminster Hall: while in the midst of all, and pre eminent above all, towered one gigantic pile the glorious Gothic cathedral. Far on the east, and beyond the city walls, though surrounded by its own mural defences, was seen the frowning Tower of Londonpart fortress and part prisona s tructure never viewed in those days without terror, being the scene of so many passing tragedies. the young man's gaze became fixed upon Westminster Hall; for there, in one of its chambers, the ceiling of which was adorned with gilded stars, were held the councils of that terrible tribunal which had robbed him of his inheritance, and now threatened him with deprivation of liberty, and mutilation of person. (8586) Later in the novel Ainsworth provides the reader with a birds eye view of Westminster Hall as part of a general Whitehall survey, but this panoramic view over a principal characters shoulder, so similar in comp osition to scenes from his earlier novels, makes it clear that Ainsworths focus has changed in The Star Chamber Unlike the London panoramas in Tower and Old Saint Pauls the view is taken, not from the pertinent structure of the novel, but from a point of departure from the city, the novels landmark helping to recap the early action of the plot. Jocelyns gaze finds Westminster Hall and the sight elicits an emotional response, recalling him to his own troubles and the reader to the central conflict of t he novels first twelve chapters. The view serves a thematic purpose, then, reminding us of the novels London concerns and even providing a bit of dramatic foreshadowing before Jocelyn is allowed to wander off to Hertfordshire and a pastoral love affair. The other historical monuments in the view, places explored in earlier Ainsworths novels, serve as reference points; they help orient the reader spatially, historically, textually. The cumulative weight of later panoramas like this one should be noted: those readers of The Star Chamber who had been readers of The Tower of London would feel they understood why it was a structure never viewed in those days without terror, would have known that it was the scene of so many passing tragedies because they had witnessed one in Ainsworths account of Jane
155 Grey. Readers of Old Saint Pauls would know what became of the pre eminent structure in Jocelyns gaze. In short, the more landmarks and monuments Ainsworth tours with the reader, the more historical spa ces he visits and describes (or even reconstructs, like Old St. Pauls), the closer together he draws the corners of a historicized England in panoramic descriptions like this. Readers of Ainsworth would be reminded in such scenes of their own ever extendi ng grasp on an extant and tangible historical landscape, their own increasing ownership of a shared history. Especially in novels after the early 1840s, the panoramas become not merely a descriptive or a narrative moment but also a companionable moment, a pause with their tour group leader to remember the places, both spatial and narrative, they have visited together. The English Victor Hugo: the Reader as Tourist Scott established the precedent of establishing landmarks as the center of the historical novel in Kenilworth (although Walpoles The Castle of Otranto might as easily be offered as the Gothic precedent). Closer to Ainsworths vision of building from and around a central historical landmark, however, is Victor Hugos Notre Dame de Paris (1829). Before Ainsworth even began setting historical landmarks at the center of his novels, he was being favorably compared to Hugo, suggesting similarities in their conceptions of genre as well as space and structure. The generically diverse Rookwood won Ainswo rth the epithet the English Victor Hugo in the press (qtd in Ellis 1: 257), indicating that his first readers noted similarities that must have had to do with his particular version of the palimpsest narrative. While it is probably too much to suppose t hat Ainsworth taken his architectural paradigms directly from architects, he might well have adapted them from Hugo. Certainly many features of the French novelists concentration on an urban palimpsest of space and narrative influenced him more than Scott s model, even when Scott focused on similar scenes.
156 Where Kenilworth Castle serves as a place of resolution for Scotts novel, its delayed appearance taking on a significance analogous to the late appearance of historical characters in Scott (at just su ch a time, just such a hero as Lukacs puts it ), Hugos Notre Dame literally crawls all over its landmark in the person of Quasimodo. While Scott had featured irrational Elemental characters with strong ties to the rural landscape, both Hugo and Ainsw orth feature eccentric, insane, and malformed characters with strong connections to buildings and architecture, like Quasimodo in Notre Dame the grotesque dwarf Xit in Tower of London, or the mad prophet Solomon Eagle in Old Saint Pauls Linking Notre Da mes Gothic architecture with Gothic narrative, Hugo fills its secret, often fictional spaces with occult characters and incidents, as Ainsworth does the Tower and Windsor Castle.10 10 Another of Ainsworths fellow architects, Dumas pere also finds fictional spaces within historical scenes in order to develop romantic or Gothic subplots. For instance, in Twenty Years After he creates an empty space beneath Charles Is scaffold so that his protagonists can hear the kings last whispered words, which allude to a hidden fund of royalist treasure. Drawing upon Scott for its temporal setting, class tension, and some histor ical portraiture, Hugos novel also draws heavily from the Gothic tradition perhaps from Matthew Lewis especially, given the mad monk villain, Claude Frollo, and the novels frantic sexual energy. Hugo plunges into the darkest places of his Medieval Paris with gusto, as Ainsworth fixates on the sensational, criminal and violent side of old London. The Gothic cathedral of NotreDame lies at the center of Hugos vision it is Claude Frollos base of operations, riddled with secret rooms and passages; it is Qua simodo the hunchbacks home, the place where he takes the gypsy Esmerelda for sanctuary, the bastion he defends against the attacking Paris mob; it is the meeting ground for all plot points, the throughway for both fictional and historical narratives. Not only for the centrality of the landmarkStephen Carver notes that Hugos Notre Dame and Ainsworths Tower each serve as the focal point of the narrative, a controlling metaphor for the nations history (Tower, paragraph 1) but also for the various
157 ways the physical structure organizes the action and even comes to represent narrative itself, Notre Dame is the obvious inspiration for Ainsworths monument novels of the eighteen forties. In Book Five, Chapter Two of Notre Dame de Paris Hugo digresses at l ength on how the book will kill the building postulating a version of architectural theory where architecture is itself a primal, basic language understood across classes, in danger of being forgotten in the advent of literacy (188). When Hugo reads architecture as language and NotreDame as text, when he contends that upright stones are the letters of an alphabet, that L'immense entassement de Karnac est dj une formule tout entire and that architecture has been la grande criture du genre humain, he is both expressing one of the headiest manifestations of Romantic architectural theory and also modeling a version of text that can be, that must be composed of diverse, fragmented components ( Gauthier edition, 201). In Hugos view human history and tra dition produced symbols which became ever more complicated, until architecture formed a giant with a thousand heads and a thousand arms, and fixed all this vacillating symbolism in a form at once palpable, visible, and eternal. While Daedalus, who is for ce, measured; and Orpheus, who is intelligence, sang, the pillar, which is a letter, the arcade, which is a syllable, the pyramid, which is a word, simultaneously set in motion both by a law of geometry and by a law of poetry, they combined and amalgamated, they rose and fell, they were juxtaposed on the ground, and superimposed in the sky, until, at the dictate of the general idea of an epoch, those marvelous books which were also marvelous buildings: the Pagoda of Eklinga, the Ramesseum of Egypt, the Temple of Solomon. (190) Hugos almost perverse fascination with the violent and desperate past generations he imagines, pre literate and prerevolutionary mobs enslaved by superstition and the church, virtually demands a many formed (a quasi modo), genre in clusive version of the historical novel to support it. By centering on the marvelous book of Notre Dame Cathedral, he finds a thousandheaded giant to help fix his ideas: a symphony in stone combining unity with complexity (190). The image is m ost distinct from Waverley s giant of a thousand peculiar and varied
158 forms by its being rooted in architectural, urban space, by its being composed of or shaped by spatial practice. While it is hardly true that Ainsworth learnt very little indeed from W alter Scott (Sanders 33), it is much easier to see traits he has in common with Hugoa willingness to mix history and Gothic ism more freely than Scott had, a fascination with violent and criminal behavior, an interest in cityscapes and historic monuments, and above all, a tendency to think of narratives in architectural terms (and vice versa). Ellis provides plenty of evidence that Ainsworth was sensitive to places and buildings, that he liked to imagine the stories historic spaces could tell, well before his career as a novelist began. But following Hugos lead he seems to have adapted this sensibility into a raison detre for historical fiction, resulting in the deliberate equation of architecture and history found in his most popular work, and in his pen chant for presenting history to his readers like a tour guide. The architectural symphonies of stone of famous buildings inspired narratives to him, both theme and variation, basic history and improvised probability. At the same time, history was itself like architecture: a tangle of interwoven structures and initiatives, somehow supporting itself, improbably remaining upright. The common reaction to the idea by his foregrounded reader is wonder and awe but also, in self consciously prompted responses, to acknowledge that buildings are history, that history equals famous buildings. In one scene in The Tower of London, villain Simon Renard tours the White Tower led by (appropriately enough) a yeoman warder or Beefeater, Gervase Winwike. In his greeting to Renard we can recognize the voice of the tour guide: I shall feel honoured by your presence. We shall reach the roof just at sunrise, and the view from thence, on a fine clear morning like the present, is magnificent beyond compare (141). On the roof Winwike directs Renards attention
159 both to the panorama of London and to the Towers place in it. There follows a sort of catechism equation between the tour guide and the tourist/reader: There you behold the Tower of London, said Winwike, pointing downwards. And there I read the history of England, replied Renard (141 142). Winwike confirms: The building on which we stand, and those around us, are the best chronicles of our country (142). Winwike proposes to recount the history of the Tower for Ren ard, but the narrator takes this lecture upon himself in the next chapter, for our edification: instead of following the warders narrative to Simon Renard, it appears advisable in this place to offer a slight sketch of the renowned fortress under consideration, especially as such a course will allow of its history being brought down to a later period than could otherwise be accomplished. (142) What follows could hardly be described as a slight sketch, as Ainsworth plunges into the eleventh century (five centuries before the novels setting) and recounts various episodes from the fortres s history through 1820 (nearly three centuries after), in a long passage that Ernest Rhys calls Ainsworths heavy wedge of history (vii). Further, the account could only be regarded as Englands best chronicle by a reader seeking novelty and sensation: a hurried Baedekers itinerary of atrocities and curiosities, legendary or Shakespearian incidents, supernatural warnings and royal caprice. The full chapter title mak es clear that the account doesnt emphasize common relationships between past and present the extant structure is itself the link between thembut famous moments, technical curiosities, impressive measurements, the shocking and the strange. Of the Tower of London; Its Antiquity and Foundation; Its Magnitude and Extent; Its Keep, Palace, Garden, Fortifications, Dungeons, and Chapels; Its Walls, Bulwarks, and Moat; Its Royal Inmates; Its Constables, Jailers, Warders, and Other Officers; Its Prisoners, Executi ons, and Secret Murders The chapter overflows with sensational and outre details: the mortar that has been tempered with the blood of beasts, the supernatural warnings against its fortification, the menagerie
160 established by Edward IV, the Frenchman who accidentally set fire to a barrel of gunpowder, which blew up the structure of the Middle Tower, the poignant and mysterious carvings on the walls on the dungeons (142, 143, 145, 14950). While Scott felt perfectly justified in including such historical trivia in the Waverley Novels they were isolated from the main narrative threads within the many prefaces, introductions, appendices and explanatory notes. Here is no exhibition of the past in a causal sense no attempt to show the commonalities between Then and Now, but the same shocking, titillating celebration of differences found in Hugo. Ainsworth laments the wicked past as Hugo laments the lost language of architecture, nostalgic about its quaint beauty even as he details its horrors and prejudices Lukacs injunction that the historical novel should not cause the reader to regard remote historical conditions and peoples as an historical curiosity but as a phase of mankinds development which concerns and moves us (42) makes the difference clear : Ainsworths novels abound with historical curiosities, not to be found (as in Scott) relegated outside the domain of the text by footnotes or introductory chapters, but at the center of the narrative. By Lukacsian standards, the history of the Tower of L ondon in Ainsworths novel is an exercise in marginalia. But as a sensational historical tour through Gothic horror chambers, a self conscious holiday history offering something for everyone, or an imaginative spectacle akin to the waxwork, Ainsworths his tory is ideal.11 11 Victorian cr itic R. H. Horne condemned Ainsworth as a reviver of old clothes and a manufacturer of good tempered portraits; his prefatory quotations from the Memoirs of Mme Tussaud suggest a perception of Ainsworths novels as close relatives of the waxwork spect acle (Mitchell 110). For his readers, who took a new interest in the marvelous books dotting Londons skyline, Ainsworths message was clear, exciting, and refreshingly universal: history is a place to go, a thing to see.
161 Conclusion: Structures Full of Good Things When defending haphazard ingredients in his novels, Scott was fond of quoting Buckinghams The Rehearsal : What the devil does the plot signify, except to bring in good things? His hypothetical response to the question (from The Fortunes of Nigel ) sums up his offhand but pragmatic approach to fiction: Grant that I were so, and that I should write with sense and spirit a few scenes unlaboured and loosely put together, but which had sufficient interest in them to amuse in one corner the pain of body; in another, to relieve anxiety of mind; in a third place, to unwrinkle a brow bent with the furrows of daily toil; in another, to fill the place of bad thoughts, or to suggest better; in yet another, to induce an idler to study the history of his country . (xxx) Scotts half satirical idea of a novels plot as an assemblage of good things, affording amusement and relaxation, perhaps even a little painless historical instruction, seems not unlike Ainsworths own understanding of the histori cal novel as a place where vivid contrasts can be contained and displayed. Both novelists, whatever their different historical visions, embraced an idea of their genre as a gathering together, a motley collection of narrative styles, of character types, of consitituent and supplementary events. For Scott the idea plays out restlessly and constantly, not only in space but in shifting patterns of dialogue, overlapping narrators, and competing accounts of historical events. Ever since the genre sifting intro duction of Waverley, or even since the heady days of his first artistic composition The Lay of the Last Minstrel whose speaker weaves his own thoughts into the supposedly aged lay he sings, Scott either wouldnt or couldnt leave any genre pure. Every category is mixed: the better to bring in good things. For Ainsworth, however, the idea gets reflected in a particular, recurring setting: a space overflowing with an assorted, often grotesque jumble of curious objects. In Old Saint Pauls, for example, apprentice Leonard Holt discovers a mysterious house literally crammed with assorted items, the spoils of opportunistic undertaker Anselm Chowles (337). Here is no junk
162 pile not a gathering of rubbish, but of good things: books, looking glasses, pictures wine and spirits, andwhat we might expect to find in a costume romance male and female habiliments, spread out like the dresses in a theatrical wardrobe (337). In Auriol the image is more persistent, with several locations featuring such jumbled and i mprobable collections, from a Gothic chamber of alchemical instruments in the opening chapters, to an extraordinary and incongruous assemblage of objects huddled and heaped together in the most fantastic disorder at the ruined house in the Vauxhall road (27). Within the architectural massive piles, it seems Ainsworths protagonists are always stumbling on other massive piles of a different sort; the effect is almost abyssal. The reappearance of such settings, especially in the probably unfinished Auriol, certainly the most disjointed of Ainsworths novels (Worth 120), should not surprise us if we think of the Ainsworth structure paradigmatically: the novels are full of the odd and incongruous crammed with generic, modal and tonal juxtapositions, drama suddenly turning comic, fictional narrative supplanted by historical reporting without pause. A skillful architect clearing away rubbish on the one hand, a gatherer of good things in most fantastic disorder on the other, Ainsworth seems committed t o an idea of narrative as a kind of contained rummage sale, following generalized, recognizable and broad directions in plot but remaining flexible in episode and incident, keeping narrative options open.12In his disparagement of Ainsworth, Andrew Sanders practically stumbles across this tendency when he notes that [Ainsworth] Plots are molded around historical crises which oblige the novelist to follow a line of development faithful to his sources but his subplots, which are 12 Rosemary Mitchell persuasively reads the numerous jumbled spaces of Auriol as evidence of Ainsworths doubt in the ability of fiction to explore history, identifying the novel as the beginning of his decline. Her equation of space with history is attractive, but as I have indicated above such spaces are recurrent in Ainsworth novels, appearing also in his most popular (and in Mitchells estimation his most successful) novels, like Old Saint Pauls
163 often more involved, show mor e of a desire for variety than for a complement to the main story (35). Ainsworth subplots do indeed exhibit a desire for variety a wide embrace of genres and styles, a set of vivid contrasts, the gathering together of good things that characterized the historical novel in his day. Sanders restrictive notion that historical events oblige the novelists treatment of themor, in other words, that the historical record determines the novels plot not only downplays Ainsworths abilities but must also condemn some of the best historical novels of the nineteenth century. But Sanders is quite correct in noting that Ainsworth looks to history to provide narrative stability and broad plot directions. With whatever good things he might enliven particular chapte rs or numbers, whether sentimental love passages, rude comic relief or torture chamber gore, Ainsworth consults the historical for reference points. He guides his fiction with historical fact, a practice made strikingly evident in his panoramas. The ending of Auriol provides us with a striking example, when a glimpse of historicized cityscape provides resolution for the main character and the climax for the novel. In this strange novel, Auriol Darcy is a young man living in Elizabethan times who murders Doctor Lamb, his alchemist great grandfather, and steals a life restoring elixir. From its magical effects he lives into the nineteenth century but gradually learns he must also contend with Satan himself, who appears as a mystical stranger called Rougemont. Repeatedly tricked and disoriented by Rougemont, Auriol cannot believe his senses when he awakens in Doctor Lambs laboratory again, having apparently dreamed most of the novels incidents. The laboratory a jumble of Gothic good things like alchemical implements, mystic parchments, crucibles and grinning skeletons fails to convince Auriol that he is indeed back in the fifteenth century, nor indeed does Doctor Lamb himself (198). I should feel perfectly convinced, he tells his great grandfather, if I might look forth from that window:
164 Auriol then walked to the window and gazed through the tinted panes. he fancied he could detect the gleam of the river beneath him, and what seemed a long line of houses on the bridge. He also fancied he discerned other buil dings, with the high roofs, the gables, and the other architectural peculiarities of the structures of Elizabeth's time. He persuaded himself, also, that he could distinguish through the gloom the venerable Gothic pile of Saint Paul's Cathedral on the othe r side of the water, and, as if to satisfy him that he was right, a deep solemn bell tolled forth the hour of two. After a while he returned from the window, and said to his supposed grandsire, I am satisfied. I have lived centuries in a few nights. (200 201) Auriols look out of the window assures him of his place in the historical timeline; I must look out, he says, to know that I am what I seem (200). His first clue that he is back in the Elizabethan Era is another peculiarity of the cityscape: Docto r Lambs lab assistant tells him he is within a house situated on London Bridge, to which Auriol replies, On the bridge did you say on the bridge, friend? (196, original emphasis). By looking out from the jumbled, ahistorical confusion of Doctor Lambs laboratory to the architectural peculiarities of Elizabeths time, the scene echoes Ainsworths own fictional practice of orienting his narratives within historical reference points of finding narrative order by looking at the structure and the cityscape Further, it unequivocally demonstrates that the cityscape and the structures that compose it constitute valid and trustworthy historical information for Ainsworth. As visible and visitable, tangible and tour able links to the past, historical structures become a means for Ainsworth both to organize and validate his historical fiction. The historicized city and the extant structures that make up its most remarkable features serve as interactive endorsements to his historical novels, places where his Englis h readers could witness the truth of his fiction in far more palpable ways than Scotts. In such historical structures, says Renard in The Tower of London, we might read the history of England; through their representation we might read the historical novels of Ainsworth.
165 CHAPTER 5 THE HUMBLER TASK: BULWER LYTTON AND THE SPACE OF ARCHAEOLOGY In my first two full chapters I looked at the way historical novel space was established in the novels of Sir Walter Scott and described some of its char acteristics also describing some of the typical readers of its text In the fourth chapter I examined Ainsworths variation on Scotts Waverley space a variation that depended on architecture and physical structures rather than on the rural or ruin spaces so emphasized by Scott. In this chapter I ll examine the work of a third early historical novelist, Edward Bulwer Lytton, whose technical, theoretical, and characteristic archaeological spaces form yet another version of the spatial palimpsest in th is case, a particularly influential version B ecause Bulwers1 1 I follow long established convention in referring to this author as Bulwer rather than Lytton, since Bulwer was in fact his surname proper, and Lytton his titled name. handful of historical novels from the thirties and forties correspond with the late Victorian and Edwardian juvenile and religious approach to historical fiction better than Scotts or Ainswort hs I have chosen to draw some brief comparisons to selected works of these types from the late century, the better to show continuity between Bulwers actively didactic and morally weighted spaces and the genre as it developed. Though all three novelists continued to be marketed towards boys during the fin de sicle, for example, and constructed as healthful and manly reading, in many important ways Bulwer most clearly leads to the adventure novels of G. A. Henty and Conan Doyle, and so to the numerous hi storical novels given to children as school prizes and commencement gifts My discussion of how Bulwers work leads to these variations in essence, a characterization of a broad genre trajectory will thus continue to follow the development of historical novel space from the time of Scotts death to the end of the Victorian Era and beyond.
166 Of his total output of some thirty novels, collections of poems and essays, several histories and dramas, Bulwers historical novels make up only a small percentage. Several of the earliest notably Deveraux (1829), Leila (1838), and Calderon the Courtier (1838) are short, fashionable, and one might even say halfhearted. Bulwer as full fledged historical romancer is probably best represented by his most durable genre piece, The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and its follow up, Rienzi (1835). Only in the forties did Bulwer self consciously begin writing scholarly and serious historical novels with The Last of the Barons (1843) and Harold (1848). Before consi dering his treatment of space, it may be helpful to situate Bulwers genre productions against Scotts and Ainsworths, particularly the latter with whom he is often linked indiscriminately. Like Ainsworth, Bulwers literary career saw him embracing a n umber of fashionable subgenres including silver fork, Newgate, and sensation novels. Although he exhibit ed a melodramatic tone and ethos not unlike Ainsworths, he did not seem to borrow so much from the Gothic ; rather, his historical novels retain an oddl y Anglicized classicism imitative of Shakespeares Roman plays. Bulwer also preferred to reach further away and further back from Victorian Britain for his historical subjects than did Scott or Ainsworth. Scotts earliest setting was eleventh century Const antinople in Count Robert of Paris (1831) while Ainsworth never set a novel before the fourteenth century. Bulwer, on the other hand, treated medieval Spain in Leila and Calderon, medieval Rome in Rienzi and ancient Roman civilization in The Last Days of Pompeii His two most serious historical novels both depict England, but in the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. T he early and experimental Deveraux does examine eighteenth century Britain, and thus falls within some critics sanctioned purview of serious historical fiction: the regional and the recent.
167 However, though Bulwers preferred chronotopes were habitually more remote than those chosen by Scott, Ainsworth or G. P. R. James, and though each wrote far more historical novels than he did, his work remained extremely influential to the genre throughout the century. I ts hard to imagine Victorian bestsellers like Kingsleys Hypatia, the didactic classical fictions of Alfred Church and other works that imagined the beginning centuries of Christianity against a classical setting w ithout the great success of Bulwers Last Days Similarly, the Carlylean heroes of Harold and Earl Warwick ( Last of the Barons ) are the clear progenitors of Kingsleys Hereward the Wake a string of popular novels about Alfred the Great, and a long line of similar G. A. Henty portraits: from Hannibal ( The Young Carthaginian) straight through the centuries to Under Wellingtons Command and With Clive in India Bulwers melodramatic style and remote historical reach might tempt us to conclude that his historical novels are more consciously romantic than Scotts and Ainsworths, i.e. given to a freer license, painted with a broader brush. In fact, Bulwer believed and his champions have argued that the opposite is the c ase. Especially in the later novels, Bulwer sought to separate his efforts from predecessors, including Scott, on the grounds of his own greater historical accuracy, thus bringing what Andrew Sanders calls the new seriousness to the genre As the posturi ng develops in Bulwers lengthy introductions and notes, it might well be labeled the new confidence, or even the new smugness as well. Significantly, Bulwers expresses the distinction (in the Preface to the Third Edition of Harold) in spatial and agr icultural terms: But he who wishes to avoid the ground pre occupied by others, and claim in the world of literature some spot, however humble, which he may plough with his own heifer, will seek to establish himself not where the land is the most fertile but where it is the least enclosed. So, when I first turned my attention to Historical Romance, my main aim was to avoid as much as possible those fairer portions of the soil that had been appropria ted by the first discoverers. ( 1: xiv )
168 Bulwers humbler task was to extract from authentic but neglected chronicles, and the unfrequented storehouse of Archaeology, the incidents and details that enliven the dry narrative of facts to which the general historian is confined ( 1: xiv ). Books and places, records and sites, then, are what provide Bulwer with this more accurate and conscientious version of historical fiction T he Dedicatory Epistle of Harold emphasizes both scholarly texts and textual spaces depicting the author at work in his unsocial study, her alding the advent of majestic folios and heaping libraries around, then looking out the window over the broad landscapes which, if I err not, took their name from the proud father of the Conquerer himself ( 1: xi ). Bulwers archaeology metaphor and his sc holarly persona inform his methodology strongly even in earlier works before the new seriousness set s in and especially in The Last Days of Pompeii For all its success during the thirties, that decade of fashionable and easily accessible historical romance, Last Days is a novel generated from its archaeological spaces L ike Ainsworths The Tower of London, its physical locations not only verify the history but also inform inspire and organize the fiction. Bulwer thought that research and attention to detail made for more accurate, more responsible historical fiction. Yet b y implication, it led to moral, orderly and manly fiction as well which sanctioned a less purely scientific approach; careful pruning could insure a product that might safely instruct children and be entrusted fearlessly to the young ( Harold 1: vii ). T he best means of achieving these two essentially opposite goals, of recovering history in its minute details yet also shaping and censoring the narrative, was to keep the fiction and history relatively separate: to limit the blending and intertwining that historical fiction is prone to, find the romance implied by the history, and insert or perhaps superimpose dramatic scenes and situations to spice things up. Vari ous critics of the historical novel have instead pointed out that
169 the result of his bookish approach is pedantry and, worse, demythologization, but there can be no doubt that Bulwers didactic and morally responsible version of the historical novel worke d for the Victorians It unite d the learning of the historian with the fancy of the poet, taught morality by example and impart ed information by giving pleasure ( Allison, qtd in Campbell 70). To tell an exciting and romantic story that readers will learn from, in spite of themselves, soon became the popular modus operandi for the churchmen and headmasters whose novel s swell the ranks of the genre in the late century. The delineation between domains plays out both narratively and spatially in Bulwer. Narratively, his method meant a strong historical framework and various ( usually expendable) fictional subplots Vesuvius will erupt and bury Pompeii, William the Conquer or will win the Battle of Hastings, but who falls in love with whom, and what rivals they encounter in their loves, may be safely invented. In novels like Leila The Last of the Barons and Harold, all of which feature historical characters as principals, he seeks to separate public (historic) from private (fictional) strands of the narrative, and outward actions from inward soliloquies: The fictitious part of my narrative is confined chiefly to private life, with its domain and incident and passion, which is the legitimate appanage of novelist or poet. Solely in that inward life which, not only as apart from the more public and historical, but which, as almost wholly unknown, becomes the fair domain of the poet, did I claim the legitimate privileges of fiction . ( Harold 1: vii xiv my emphasis) This sorting out and fussing over domains and legitimate grounds perhaps more consciously attempted by Bulwer than any other historical novelist of the period reveals an utterly confident historia nnarrator. For the trick to workthat is, for Bulwer to claim the thoughts and private lives of worldhistorical characters as fair domain, without surrendering his pretensions to accuracy and veracity requires a scholarly and Godlike persona, who can de scribe boldly and unambiguously the actions thoughts, and meanings he deems implicit in the historical record.
170 Accordingly, Bulwers narrator is the most conscious demonstrative historian of the three novelists Ive studied Spatially, the confidence an d didacticism play out in Bulwers investigation of loaded hypothetical spaces history lessons in miniature, often assembled by the novelist himself to dissect for the reader. In an earlier chapter I wrote that there is always some mystification about the reader of landscape as well as some corresponding mystification about the narrating voice in most historical novels ( like the seemingly rational, nevertheless dis ingenuous and multiple personality Author of Waverley ) In Bulwers narration, little of this mystification is evident T he narrator interprets the scene matter of factly a scene which he has avowedly created himself in many cases, describing and decoding the layers of meaning in the landscape or architecture. It s as if Bulwers narrator is Scotts Jonathan Oldbuck lecturing the reader, without the troublesome Edie Ochiltree to undermine his conclusions. Bulwers earnestness and lecturing posture, along with his tendency to keep historical and fictional elements discrete (thereby marking the latter as irrelevant), are some reasons why he remains a less readable historical novelist of the period. But his willingness to us e space as an authorial extension and teaching tool a sort of chalkboard for his lecturers persona reveals his continuity w ith Scott and Ainsworth, and with several generations of historical novelists who followed. Despite his candidly partisan, nonobjective commitment to a heroic and (particularly Protestant) providential historical process despite a vision, therefore, quite unlike Scotts or Ainsworths Bulwers novels show historical novel space to be the flexible space of concept and metaphor, a space where ideas are worked out. Space and Order: Teleology in Bulwers Pompeii Besides being the most demonstrative and present historian, Bulwer also espouses the most progressive vi sion of history of the three novelists studied in this project though his
171 progressivism is peculiarly Victorian in its Protestantism and English ness, not unlike his contemporary, Charles Kingsley Bulwers confiden t tone and trust in the written record emphasize this point abundantly. While Scott had all but apologized for reaching back to twelfthcentury England for Ivanhoe and joked about setting stories in obscure lands so that readers could not catch hi s mistakes, Bulwer stresses the factual nature of his history although reaching much further back and afield than Scott ever did. Bulwers faith both in the record itself and in the all shaping D e ity that has preserved the record for Victorian Br itain to ponder and explicate, extends to his landscapes and cityscapes; he sees continuity where other novelists had seen only novelty and difference. In both his narrating persona and his spatial description, then, Bulwer projects a conservatism that oft en crosses the line into complacency; he sees Design and Purpose more readily in historical events, even when those events seem inexplicably catastrophic. Bulwers teleological bias shows up most obviously in the setting for his most famous novel, The Last Days of Pompeii Bulwers first task is to demonstrate that Ancient Pompeii was not very dissimilar to nineteenth century cities like Naples, Paris, or London; c ity life is city life, and though the costumes may change, the infinite variety and moral relativism of city experience is seemingly eternal: nothing could exceed the bustle, the gaiety, the animation where pleasure and commerce, idleness and labor, avarice and ambition, mingled in one gulf their motley rushing, yet harmonious, streams (199). The moral crises of these times resemble those of Bulwers own, and s o great a continuity, so powerful a design does Bulwer see that the terrible destructive force of the volcano itself becomes punitive, suborned to providence But Vesuvius has not only destr oyed the sinful community; it has also had the effect of freezing time for the benefit of posterity, that later generations specifically, Bulwers own may draw
172 lessons from what the landscape has literally imprisoned. Even this particular city, Bulwer seem s to say with Panglossian conviction, was a divine choice: Pompeii was the miniature of the civilization of that age. Within the narrow compass of its walls was contained, as it were, a specimen of every gift which luxury offered to power. In its minute but glittering shops, its tiny palaces, its baths, its forum, its theatre, its circus in the energy yet corruption, in the refinement yet the vice, of its people, you beheld a model of the whole empire. It was a toy, a plaything, a showbox, in which the gods seemed pleased to keep the representation of the great monarchy of earth, and which they afterwards hid from time, to give to the wonder of posterity the moral of the maxim, that under the sun there is nothing new. ( 12) Bulwer does not specifically say that this city was the best of all possible cities to be preserved by the volcano, but its microcosmic nature does make its preservation more than fortuitous. Perhaps to avoid too preachy a tone, Bulwers attention to archaeological detail allows him to press this moral agenda home with what seems like scientific precision, even though the conclusions he draws may be fanciful and heavily symbolic. Pivoting to the recent past, Bulwer notes that the diggers in Pompeii rec overed the shell of a tortoise in an ancient garden. He speculates on its life in proximity with the nearby house, how this strange link in the creation survived earthquakes and successive owners with equal indifference ( 149). Eventually Bulwer decides t he tortoise is not only a link but a divine symbol: it was an emblem of time itself: slow, regular, perpetual; unwitting of the passions that fret themselves aroundof the wear and tear of mortality. The poor tortoise! nothing less than the bursting of vol canoes, the convulsions of the riven world, could have quenched its sluggish spark! (150) Time s march is impersonal and unchangeable, bu t the volcano has halted it in this divine time capsule that posterity may draw these moral lessons. In this moment, what seems a naturalists discovery confirms this providential guidance. Though perhaps an awful and a cataclysmic universe, it is nonetheless orderly, and the scholar, poet, and historian can decipher its lessons. In Scotts world, they only bicker about them.
173 Although Bulwers landscape is obviously not stable (given Pompeiis explosiveness) and a shifting and uncertain space still features in hi s novels, the ultimate design and meaning in such instability may be more recoverable. Because Bulwers faith i n a grand design seem s greater than Scotts or Ainsworths he also judge s past peoples more readily, placing them securely into an overarching worldview that he may have gathered, like his interest in hero figures and Zeitgeist, from Carlyle. From the inf ormed perspective of his narrator, the landscape can be threatening and chaotic to the characters simply because they (unlike Bulwer or the reader) are unable to see the broader view. The peoples of ancient Roman times, when Reason herself was but the cre ature of the imagination ( Last Days 141), are superstitious and irrational. The people of Harolds time were as credulous as children, leading Bulwer to cite an (unidentified) Italian writer that he who would depict philosophically an unphilosophical age, should remember that, to be familiar with children, one must sometimes think and feel as a child ( 1: vii ). The age level metaphor for philosophies recalls Hegel, and makes clear that Bulwers historical view, like Carlyles, is one of history as pro cess : Bulwer is fitting past peoples into a recognizable classification scheme, checking, grading, and pigeonholing like the best taxonomic Victorian naturalist. To the greater or more gifted visionary, then, is given the ability to see significance in t he chaotic landscape, an idea that Bulwer essentially shares with Scott, though he demystifies the concept. Reading spaces remains a test of acumen and character, yet may also become a test of faith. The earthquake that rocks Pompeii weeks prior to the fat al eruption is thus complementary to the religious message of Olinthus, the novels proselytizing Christian. Like the classical Christians of so many Victorian novels, Olinthus quotes New Testament verses he could not have had access to and generally behav es more like a dissenting evangelical than a man of his
174 age. But his understanding of the earthquake is similar to Bulwers own ideas about the land and the last days of the city: Deluded idolators! he tells the Pompeians, did not last nights convuls ion warn ye? Alas! How will ye meet the last day? (202 ). By contrast, the reactions of the pagan protagonists to the quake are fearfully uncertain and mythic: the land we live in yet nurses mysterious terror says Glaucus to his servant Nydia, who answer s I felt the soil creep and heave beneath me, l ike some monstrous serpent (207). Like Bulwer the scrupulous historian who announced that (unlike Scott) he must do more than present an amusing picture of national manners ( Harold 1: xv ) Olinthus is able to understand cause and effect, both literally and universally (or morally). The truth is not only self evident; it is self evidently displayed in space. In fact, Bulwer characterizes the entire destruction of Pompeii as a failure to read physical space and its signs accurately. Above all, rode the cloud capped summit of the Dread Mountain, with the shadows, now dark, now light, betraying the mossy caverns and ashy rocks, which testified the past conflagrations, and might have prophes ied but man is blind that which was to come! (174) This land does not merely hint or suggest but prophesies boldly, and as Last Days makes clear with its protracted debates about religion and knowledge, it is the spiritual blindness of humanity above all that has brought on this divine destruction.2In each of the se examples, evidence from the Pompeii sitein the one case a tortoise shell, in the other the existence of the site itself is used to prove a divine plan; it confirms not only the purpose in historical events but also, crucially, the narrators authorit y to interpret that Bulwer sees this and Olinthus grasps it partially, but Last Day s other characters can only find out the horrible truth by experience. Those spared the final destruction convert to Christianity. 2 Ainsworth develops a similar situation in Old Saint Pauls whose crazed prophet Solomon Eagle foretells the coming destruction of London by fire as a punishment for the citys sinful ways. But space does not mirror Solomon Eagles message in Ainsworths novel, as it does Olinthus in Last Days
175 purpose in the historical record and in space. To use Alistair Duckworths favored term for describing Scotts depicted spaces, Bulwers spaces are obviously much more rhetorical than previously accounted. He takes the leap from premi se to conclusion, from the seemingly ambiguous evidence of history to a confident interpretation of the past that Scott had avoided taking, that Ainsworth had sidestepped (or tunneled beneath!). Where Scotts rhetorical spaces frequently argue only that there will be no end to the argument about a spaces significance, Bulwers spaces are so constructed that they seem to yield only one interpretation. Bulwers narrator thus becomes the most capable and unequivocal reader of spaces in his novels. Critics an d Bulwer himself usually emphasize his self imposed restraints and bookish obligation, but by pointing out this spatial construction, I am asserting a freeing, nonrestrictive and imaginative element in Bulwers approach to history. For instance, Andrew Sanders notes Bulwers debt to Carlyles idea that history is biography and argues that Bulwers role was, as he saw it, a poetic imaginer and an accurate recorder, a view that emphasizes his over reliance on historical sources, where the artist needs onl y to balance invention against recorded fact and impartiality and knowledge of the world serve to adjust the techniques of psychological examination (50). For Sanders, Bulwers technique is unhelpfully restrictive; Both plot and character are dependen t upon external sources and reference books, and the novelists role is reduced to offering a redefinition or a reinterpretation of what happened in history (51, my emphasis). Perceptive as is Sander s reading of Bulwers ethos, I would argue he is undere stimating Bulwers cognizance of the powers he felt were gained by his superior scholarship. If the novelists role has been reduced in his fiction, it is only because the historians role has increased exponentially. Bulwer clearly takes pride in his st rengthening and ennobling of mere fiction or romance with studied fact, and that pride and confidence lead him to
176 handle history with a deliberateness very far removed from passive impartiality. As Sanders himself notes, Bulwer rarely seems to distrust history (51). His confidence in the recoverability of fact and his own powers of interpretation led him to speculate and append to history with greater purpose or effrontery, depending on whether the reader shares his vision. Bulwers historian persona and use of space therefore challenge some of criticisms long held assumptions about what defines good or serious historical fiction: his is a process oriented view of history, exhibited in novels with a consistent vision, which advance their theses throug hout by offering confidently interpreted evidence and emphasize continuity between past and present peoples. Functionally, his novels do everything they should do according to many critical assessments yet few critics would be prepared to declare them successful either aesthetically or historically. Bulwers awareness that he is mixing different categories, and his sense of responsibility for the separate roles of artist/imaginer and researcher/historian, are both acute. He feels certain of his ground a nd much better prepared to enclose it than his predecessor; he knows where the history ends (what is its direction or design) and where the fiction must begin, and feels qualified to conjecture what any links between the two must be like. As Allen Conrad Christensen puts it, having saturated himself in all the available evidence, Bulwer calls into play the element of Romance or Fiction. This has enabled him to discern the truths among contradictions and to discover the truths about which the docume nts do not speak (120). The relationship begins to emerge: real historical understanding produces better qualified, more probable guesswork, wherever guesswork is necessary. Rounded appreciation of fact leads to better estimated historical fiction. Spatially, such an understanding leads to a meticulously orderedsome would
177 say sterile historical novel space where fact and fiction are kept separate, and where the factual spaces argue for very definite historical interpretations. Historical Space: The Real and the Typical in Last Days and Harold It is not only in his willingness to proclaim the grand significance of events that we see Bulwers confidence in his own historical scrutiny he trusts his scholarship and instincts enough to engage space theoreti cally, both building narrative from historical spaces and composing hypothetical spaces to encapsulate history. His historical spaces thus oscillate between the real and the typical, the actual, identifiable location and the hypothetical (but presumably no less real) space. Pompeii was a perfect site from which to glean both of these kinds of spaces. Of course, Bulwers Pompeii also reflects his long abiding interest in historical and experiential lasts, anticipating not only The Last of the Barons but also Harold, Last of the Saxon Kings, Rienzi Last of the Roman Tribunes, and even Leila s setting of Granada, last Moorish city to fall to the Christians in Spain. Yet Pompeii is also Bulwers most historically charged landscape because of its im minent destruction at the time of the novels setting, probably the only historical fact Bulwer would have expected his average reader to know. Dramatic tension is immediately established by his choosing this time and place, the spaces surrounding the char acters forever buzzing with the potentiality of being destroyed at any moment (Ainsworth achieves much the same effect with preGreat Fire London in Old Saint Pauls ) Bulwers Pompeii is thus a making literal of the readers narrative expectations. It for ms our knowledge of history, not our unknowledge, the obscure and uncertain regions found in Scott. But Pompeii was also frozen in time, leaving a palpable and very tantalizing from a narrative point of view collection of fragments, ruins and artifacts behind: an idea set of real locations from which to extract characters, situations and narratives. Bulwers first hand
178 knowledge of the archaeological site he conspicuously reminds his reader that he has written the novel in Italy3the traveler may yet see the impression of a female neck and bosom of young and round proportions the trace of the fated Julia! In the garden was found a skeleton with a key by its bony hand, and near it a bag of coins. This is believed to have been the master of the house the unfortunate Diomed, who had probably sought to escape by the garden, and been destr oyed either by the vapors or some fragment of stone. (551) combines with his resea rch to tease certain characters and events from these remains. So the novels protagonist, cultured manabout town Glaucus, is derived from his house the ruin named The House of the Dramatic (or Tragic) Poet, recently excavated when Bulwer wrote his novel (Nappo 142). Other characters from the novel the epicurean Sallust, the philistine Diomed, his spoiled daughter Julia are similarly based on evidence from extant ruins and artifacts. Bulwer dramatically tips his hand in the final pages of the novel, legitimizing his characters and situations and proving his own research and inventiveness! by site ing the events of the climactic chapters: Bulwers method is bolder than Ainsworths of taking inspiration from the ambience or mood of a scene. Julia is a vain and scheming female partly because she is based on ruins and artifacts: the dr essing room, cosmetics, perfumes, jewels and combs Bulwer so carefully describes in Chapter 3:7. In other, more dramatic scenes, the site has furnished Bulwer with a climax, which he can race towards fictionally in whatever way he sees fit: so the 20 bodie s of women and children discovered in the crypt of the Villa of Diomedes furnish the ending of the Julia Diomed storyline in the novel, in Chapter 5:6 (Nappo 151). This idea plays out in many scenes throughout Last Days the site has given Bulwer real momen ts in time with which to connect his narrative. 3 For example: Italy, Italy, while I write, your skies are over me your seas flow beneath my feet (137). Viewing the various witnesses of a social system which has passed from the world for ever a stranger, from that remote and barbarian Isle which the Imperial Roman shivered when he named, paused amidst the delights of the soft Campania and composed this history! (552).
179 We should note that Bulwer is not compelled to make most of these narrative choices based on hard evidence. H e allows his unequivocal interpretations of the sites features to direct the story, affecting his choices of plot, conflicts and characters. For instance, a recess behind a statue in Pompeiis Temple of Isis practically determines the characters of the novels villain Arbaces and his chief henchman, Calenus the priest. In a novel whose spiritual resol ution is the conversion of its lead characters to Christianity, we might expect the Egyptian priesthood to be painted false, but their character of insincere charlatans, preying on the Pompeians gullibility is largely determined by the Temples layout. Y et again, Bulwer points to the extant ruins as proof for his depiction: the Temple of Isis, with the juggling concealments behind the statues the lurking place of its holy oracles are now bared to the gaze of the curious ( 551).4Three points should be n oted about Bulwers handling of this real site, the most purely archaeological setting of all his historical novels. First, as noted, archaeological space reinforces a generally ordered and meaningful, specifically Christian and moral, account of world his tory. Second, Bulwer does not pretend to rely on compelling or incontrovertible evidence, but trusts his own invention and knowledge of the world (Sanders 50) to contextualize the hints and fragments the site offers up. Nevertheless, it is a context conf idently asserted by the author/narrator. Third, the broader mission of drawing attention to human sameness the constants and universals of humanity rather than the specific historical and cultural differences, 4 In fact, various contemporary tourist accounts of the site come to similar conclusions, such as this one from the Religious Tract Society periodical, The Visitor in 1851: At the further extremity of the interior stood the altar, from which a statue of Isis had been removed when the building was uncovered. We were conducted into some apartments behind, and were here shown a recess, where the priests of the temple were concealed when they uttered th e oracular responses supposed to be pronounced by the goddess. (162) The Visitor also lists, in virtually the same order as Bulwers novel, the bodies of Julia, Diomed, and other character remains discovered at Pompeii a testament, perhaps, to Bulwer s influence on British tourists impressions of the site. The account also includes a cautionary sermon in miniature, in accordance with Bulwers moral message.
180 the same epic moral continuity emphasized in t he first chapter of Waverley this mission remains intact in Bulwers fiction, however niggling and pedantic his historical asides may become. In different ways, of course, ideas of continuity always inform the historical novel and its theorization, from S cotts great book of Nature, the same through a thousand editions ( Waverley 5) to Lukac s insistence that the historical novel emphasize not what is alien about past peoples but what is common, what reveals a phase of mankinds development (42). What constitutes fact and what ignorance or superstition are the most changeable issues from one novelist or theorist to another. In Bulwers version I would argue, a more influential version than has been commonly supposedthe broad schema is visible, knowable, reliable. Gods plan is manifest, both for the Romans and their spiritual progeny, the British, in the historical process; this can be attested to by fact and by space, and assumed when the available facts or extant sites are more ambiguous. Compar ison: Emma Marshalls Real Space Before looking at Bulwers other variety of historical space, the typical or theoretical location, its worth comparing Bulwers real space strategy with a similar site and strategy from one of the neglected juvenile and religious historical novels of the late century: No. XIII by Emma Marshall (1885). The author of religious tracts and stories, a number of them historical, Marshalls only ancient setting was this novel which follows a British born Roman girl named Hyacin tha, from England to Rome in the fourth century A. D., there to ascend to the supreme position in the Temple of Vesta. On her way up, however, Hyacintha secretly becomes a Christian a revelation withheld until her death, and which causes her jealous succes sor to obliterate her name from the pedestal of her commemorative statue in the temple.
181 Marshall announces in her Introduction that she constructs her story due to recent discoveries in the Roman Forum among which are the statues of temple vestals, whos e inscriptions provide specific names and virtues (iii). One only of the vestals descriptions has been carefully erased and we can know her of whom so much is said in praise, only as Number Thirteen : An attempt has been made to clothe the memory of thi s Vestal with some probable, though of course wholly fictitious, incidents; and to assume as a certainty the idea, which has been thrown out as a possibility, that her conversion to Christianity was discovered, a nd that one in authority desired to leave no trace of her family or her name to future generations. (iiiiv) Hints derived from Bulwers forgotten storehouse of archaeology lead Marshall to clothe the memory of a past person with a wholly fictitious history; and although Marshall is perhaps m ore frank about her own fictional input, Bulwers method of fitting historical fragments confidently into a moral and didactic historical scheme is everywhere evident. For Marshall, who has young readers in mind A glance like this into the past may be mad e useful if it should quicken a desire for the intelligent study of history which means feeling sympathy and perceiving unchanging truth through the mists of superstition and ignorance (iv). From the dark places of history, the lights that illu minate are sameness, sympathy and relevance, but revelation and the universal truths are also included (iv). As in Bulwers fictions, the extant site emphasizes a moral and spiritual continuity between present and past believers, leading young readers t o think of those of whom we read in these distant ages as the brothers and sisters of the one great family of God (iv). Bulwers Theoretical Space If the extant historical site, the real space, best exemplifies Bulwers teleological vision, the typi cal or theoretical site demonstrates his confidence in his historical acumen and commitment to interpreting historical spaces for his reader. In his vision of Pompeii, Bulwer can
182 easily play the archaeologist, brushing away the encrustations of ages to reveal the solid, tangible, reliable truths of the past. That these persisting truths resemble the truths of the Victorian male aristocrat of course reveals the selective process at work in Bulwers recovery and recreation: as he has valued and eschewed fact according to his own place in history, he has likewise created and improvised fiction to suit his valuations. Bulwer therefore does not depend on the extant historical site; both in Pompeii and in other less recoverable settings, he feels comfortable bo th constructing and uncovering the site under his gaze. If the historical novel is a faux palimpsest where the author invents both the main text and the scraps and pieces at the edge, Bulwer creates spaces like this in his novels as well, though they see m more diagrammatic than his predecessors: deliberately arranged, to be exploded for the readers edification (or, to keep the archaeology metaphor in mind, deliberately piled up to be uncovered). Woven into his description of Last Days House of the Dra matic Poet, Bulwer imagines the typical Roman house for the reader, stripping away the historical particularity of the house, the pedantic details of caprice and taste, which being natural to mankind, have always puzzled antiquaries and so to convey to the reader a general notion of the houses of Pompeii ( 21). Bulwers general notion becomes a virtual tour, as his narrator shifts to second person and walks us through the house: You enter then, usually, by a small entrance passage (called cestibulum) around three sides of this hall are doors communicating with several bedchambers (among which is the porter's), if the house is large, there are two small recesses, rather than chambers, generally devoted to the ladies of the mansion; and in the centre of the tessellated pavement of the hall is invariably a square, shallow reservoir for rain water (classically termed impluvium) (21 23). The dwelling can be reduced to its theoretical essentials, to a basic anatomy complete
183 with classical terminology ( a trium, to speak classically t echnically termed peristyle ) and thus the reader obtains a tolerable notion which can serve for all the domestic spaces in the novel ( 22, 23). O ne might imagine Bulwer indulging his power of invention solely in creating the dcor for each house. This private space is, as Bulwer styled it, the fair domain of the poet, but that isnt to say Bulwers creation of the space is unhistorical or comments only on the inward dimension of life. On the contrary, his diagram feat ures asides on class ( In this hall the clients and visitors of inferior rank were usually received. In the houses of the more 'respectable', an atriensis, or slave peculiarly devoted to the service of the hall, was invariably retained, and his rank among his fellow slaves was high and important), public and private spaces ( under the colonnade, to the right and left, were doors admitting to bedrooms, to a second triclinium, or eating room ), and suitable comparisons to the habits of Bulwers own tim e and place: even their banquet rooms, however elaborately adorned and carefully selected in point of aspect, were of diminutive proportions; for the intellectual ancients, being fond of society, not of crowds, rarely feasted more than nine at a time, so that large dinner rooms were not so necessary with them as with us. (22, 23) The house is in fact a history lesson an annotated spatial comment on the logistics, habits, and social practices of the past age, pivoting forward at select moments to compare w ith the authors own world (and thus to emphasize continuity). In a descriptive passage like this one, Bulwer is both layering and uncovering, encoding and deciphering the palimpsest, creating a significanceladen text in space and reading it aloud to his audience. In terms of its detail, such passages are not wholly unlike Ainsworths detailed descriptions, except that Bulwer is creating these spaces from his research they are the domain of the historian and the poet simultaneously.
184 So confident and demy stified a historical vision has no trouble producing its own theorized spaces, as demonstrated abundantly in Harold, Bulwers last and most serious historical novel. In presenting the saga of Harold Godwinson, Last of the Saxon Kings, Bulwer again antici pates the juvenile historical novel and its wave of tributes to raw, manly AngloSaxon paragons like Harold and Alfred the Great.5In fact, Bulwer opens Harold by uncovering many of the same features of a dwelling, the same technical terms and defined spaces, that he had painstakingly laid out for The Last Days of Pompeii The first setting of the novel is fictional, and returned to frequently: the House of Hilda, decrepit but still functional, a fitting abode for the soothsayer Hilda of famous and dark repute, who, despite all law and canon, was still believed to pra ctice the dismal arts of the Wicca ( 1: 23). A domestic space originally Roman, now layered over with the history and experience of different cultures, Hildas palimpsest dwelling emerges complete with the narrators discerning reader, who separates it fro m the fairy tale or legend styled landscape of the first paragraph: But he also ventures away from the historical record spatially, since most of Britains remains, whether ruins or landmarks, date from the Norman period or after. By depicting the Saxon monarchy, Bulwer cannot rely on his favorite authoritative paradigm, the archaeological site, as he could for Last Days but must create his own theoretical spaces with built in age. Some few v erifiable spaces in the story of the Norman Conquest Westminster Abbey, or the field of Hastings where the climactic battle plays out are depicted only scantily in the novel. Instead, Bulwer constructs layered and diagrammatic theoretical spaces in Harol d, of the same sort as Pompeiis typical house. 5 See, for example, Gilliats God Save King Alfred (1901), Hentys The Dragon and the Raven (1886), and C. W. Whistlers King Alfreds Viking (1899), all of which depict with Alfreds reign gloriously. Harold also became the subject of Tennysons eponymous play (1876).
185 a large building that once had belonged to some voluptuous Roman, now all defaced and despoiled; the ruined walls, and timbered outbuildings, grey Druid stones (that spoke of an age be fore either Saxon or Roman invader) gleaming through the dawn . ( 1: 2) The house has withstood the waves of invasion and wars between the Roman times and the year 1052, so that even through all the barbarous mutilation it had undergone from barbarian hands, enough was left strikingly to contrast the ordinary abodes of the Saxon ( 1: 3). Not the typical home is this building, but a calculated exception: a created space specifically arranged to stand in for the collective history and memory of Britain Bulwer admits its uniqueness with a conceit about the houses mysterious and unlikely history : it happened rarely that the Saxon had chosen his home amidst the villas of [the Romans]. Our first forefathers were more inclined to destroy than to adapt. By what chance this building became an exception to the ordinary rule, it is now impossible to conjecture ( 1: 3). The moment in which the author knows not or cannot conjecture how space came to be arranged in a particular fashion such is a familiar momen t in the genre, usually signaling a deliberate manipulation of space for effect.6Hildas house also makes a neat argument about the Saxons lack of sophistication, thus foreshadowing the novels depiction of the Saxon race as a powerful but crude raw mat erial from which the modern Briton comes to be refined. Bulwers diction throughout the description trades technical terms with the language of despoliation and regret; he makes it clear as only he, the historian reader of space, can that the mists of ign orance have not allowed the Saxons to appreciate or profit by the historical heritage of their land. Hildas house is the ruin of that typical house of Pompeiis intellectual ancients. It is an argument in miniature, demonstrating the comparative ignorance of Saxon to Roman: 6 See, for example, the passage cited in Chapter from James Forest Days : Whether planted by accident or design I know not, six old oaks came forward from the rest of the wood (1:171).
186 The changes wrought in the edifice were mournful and grotesque. What was now the Hall, had evidently been the atrium; the spear, sword, and small curved saex of the early Teuton, were suspended from the columns on which once ha d been wreathed the flowers; what now was the fire place had been the impluvium, and the smoke went sullenly through the aperture in the roof, made of old to receive the rains of heaven. ( 1: 4) Effacing the older, more sophisticated civilization (text) is an almost sacrilegious new and barbaric layer; the once fine house has been put to the rudest uses, as nature slowly reclaims what remains. One side of the Roman peristyle, now converted into stabling, sties for swine, and stalls for oxen, confirm s this historical ar gument ( 1: 4). The other side, however, plays out a different, contrasting or balancing argument: that the religious heritage of the landscape reveals one of the few ways the Saxon will prove (eventually) superior to the sophisticated ancients. On the other side was constructed a Christian chapel, made of rough oak planks, fastened by plates at the top, and with a roof of thatched reeds. The columns and wall at the extreme end of the peristyle were a mass of ruins, through the gigantic rents of which loomed a grassy hillock, its sides partially covered with clumps of furze. On this hillock were the mutilated remains of an ancient Druidical crommel, in the centre of which (near a funeral mound, or barrow, with the bautastean, or gravestone, of some early Saxon chief at one end) had been sacrilegiously placed an altar to Thor, as was apparent both from the shape, from a rude, half obliterated, sculptured relief of the god, with his lifted hammer, and a few Runic letters. Amidst the temple of the Briton the Saxon had reared the shrine of his triumphant war god. ( 1: 5 ) Bulwer pauses to note the historical and cultural palimpsest in view: thus the eye, at one survey, beheld the shrines of four creeds ( 1: 5).7 7 Bulwer continues the survey with a relative evaluation of the creeds: the Druid, mystical and symbolical; the Roman, sensual, but huma ne; the Teutonic, ruthless and destroying; and, latest riser and surviving all, though as yet with but little of its gentler influence over the deeds of men, the edifice of the Faith of Peace (1:5). But the eye is the reade rs no one in the novel has this learned perspective; no one in the novel is so capable a reader of landscape as the narrator and (by extension) the reader. Bulwer has built this layered space and then exploded it, for the readers edification and, perhaps gratification. It is flattering and powerful to be included, to share in Bulwers vision.
187 A few times, Bulwer toys with the idea that some inkling of historical processes makes it through to the dim discernment of the Norman nobles. When Harold passes into a London setting, mostly in its first third, Bulwer follows other historical romancers in wondering over the greenery and sunshine, the pastoral atmosphere of the pre Industrialized capital. He clucks over the low entertainment of bear baiting as Scott had in Kenilworth yet still finds in the bustling and socially diverse commerce of The City a prediction of empire, where all bespoke that activity, which was destined to render that city the mart of the world ( 1: 37). Viewing the remain s of a Roman keep when crossing the Thames, the Norman Prince William shares some of this authorial sight, acknowledging both the ingenuity of the ancients and imagining the future greatness of the British when he predicts the Tower of London: Those Rom ans were our masters in all things gallant and wise and I predict that, some day or other, on that site, a King of England will re erect palace and tower ( 1: 39). It is perhaps no great prediction, since William himself will be that king. Yet through his statement Bulwer clearly argues that the Normans will be the builders of extant structures, both physical and national, because they can discern history. Harolds London space perhaps make the case for Bulwers theoretical spaces better than any oth er: the citys layers of past encrustations are explicitly arranged for the historian to distinguish, point out and explain. It is a rude dark city, its streets narrow and winding, but we are not left in the labyrinth here as in Scotts Kenilworth (29) Rather, the narrator points out the original topographical features to which we owe the names of existing thoroughfares and notes the hodgepodge of Roman and Saxon influences in many a church, and many a convent, none of which exist in Bulwers own L ondon ( 1: 40). The narrator notes the subtle signs and visual cues which reveal the Roman past, arguing that a scholars, if not an ordinary, eye could
188 behold the relics of Roman splendour, thus emphasizing the need for the learned expert to be able to ma ke sense of the citys past layers, to see the traces of that elder city which now lies buried under our thoroughfares, and of which, year by year, are dug up the stately skeletons ( 1: 39). This view has nothing to do with the characters, though we look over their shoulders as we take it in: Not on such evidences of the past civilization looked the pract ical eye of the Norman count ( 1: 40), William I. Rather, he looks but does not see, though the reader can. Bulwer and the Victorian reader of historical fiction have a perspective or a perception, or a perspicacity that past generations lack. Comparison: BaringGoulds Theoretical Space To compare Bulwers theoretical layered space with a late historical novel equivalent, we turn to the Reverend Sabine B aring Gould, most famous for writing hymns and a multi volume Lives of the Saints and one of a number of Anglican churchmen who busily produced historical romances in the fin de sicle .8Baring Gould wrote nearly a dozen historical novels, his Domitia (1897) and Perpetua (1898) continuing the historical novelists fascination with ancient Roman civilization that Bulwer and Charles Kingsley had spearheaded in the midcentury, and George Eber s translated novels about Egypt had begun to revive. Perpetua a story of Nimes in A. D. 213, does not depict any significant historical event but rather follows the second wave of Christian persecution into the Roman provinces. BaringGould imagines how the Barbarian European and Roman cultures have developed sy mbiotically much more capably than either Bulwer or Kingsley had done for instance, proposing how the anger generated against Christians in Gaul 8 Others include Alfred J. Church, C. W. Whistler, A. D. Crake, E. Gilliat and Frederic W. Farrar.
189 has more to do with their refusal to worship the local fertility gods than with any Roman edict. He is also bol d enough to depict the confused cultural intermixture (or palimpsest) of the different varieties of Christian worshippers, showing the communitys difficulty in overcoming old pagan habits and prejudices. Accordingly, Baring Gould describes the layout of typical Roman style houses and imagines how typical living spaces have been adapted to Christian uses very much as Bulwer had done in Last Days and Harold. The triclinium and atrium adapt to new uses during worship services; the kind of house Bulwer had diagrammed so carefully is turned into a makeshift chapel, yet with the same technical terms hovering, caption like, over the characters heads. As Bulwer was wont to remind us, so Baring Gould notes a picturesque ancient street sign the local museum now di splays (we may see it, and verify the history, for ourselves). Like Bulwer also, BaringGould has based some characters on extant structures, taking cues from the scene to help people his tale. But the links between the space and the history are often ten uous and hypothetical. As Battle Abbey consecrates the ground of England in Harold (discussed below) so Baring Gould claims (slyly) to consecrate his French setting with two aged churches, respectively validating his characters Perpetua and Baudillas. N ot only consecration but validation is implied by Baring Goulds invitation to the tourist: If the visitor at the present day to Nimes will look about him, he will find two churches, both recently built, in place of, and on the site of, very ancient places of worship, and the one bears the name of St. Baudille. If he inquire of the sacristan the answer given him will be: Baudillas was a native Nimes, a deacon, and a martyr. If he ask further, But when? Then the sacristan will probably reply with a shrug: Mais, monsieur, qui sait? In another part of the town is a second church, and this bears the name of Ste. Perpetue. (314315)
190 Baring Goulds finger points to a truth or proof outside of the historical or archaeological: not to an ancient structure but to a namesake. The sacristan knows the story but not the date or particulars. The ground is hallowed, but what remains only bears out Baring Goulds tale in spirit and theory, not in fact or artifact. I Can Well Judge From What I Have Seen: Space and Masculine Discernment If Bulwers narrator is unequivocally the best reader of space in his novels, that does not mean he shows no interest in depicting readers or in measuring their respective abilities. Quite the contrary: in Bulwers biographical historical novels with their emphasis on Carlylean Men of the Age, who sees and who does not see the qualities of the landscape becomes an enormously important question. Bulwers measuring of the man by his ability to intuit the significance of space links him to Scott, of course, who also emphasizes the abilities and fitness to lead of the traditional and the natural aristocratic male by placing him in unusual spatial circumstances. For Bulwer, the natural, i.e. untitled gentleman can gain enough perspective to understand the past, and therefore to predict the probable future, by experience; or, as Earl Godwinson expresses his summit view of history in Harold, The old see afar; they stand on the height of experience, as a war der on the crown of a tower ( 1: 169). But as his acknowledgement of William Is spatial acumen reveals, Bulwer is more likely than Scott to celebrate the interpretive gifts of the traditional aristocrat, a feature that confirms Scotts abiding interest in chivalrous noblemen but also links Bulwer with the heroic and conservative boys books that followed him those late century devotionals to kingly qualities whose heroes possessed that ready adaptability to circumstances which is often an attribute of the highest birth (Eve rett Green 118). Like the fin de sicle boys book as well, Bulwers historical fiction tends to make surveys of masculine and manly styles a strategy employed by so quintessential a boys book as
191 Treasure Islandand, as is so often the case in the histori cal novel, the survey of man involves the surveying of land. Last Days Harold and The Last of the Barons are all studies of different kinds of men and masculinities from the effeminate hedonism of Last Days Sallust, to the heroic dandyism of Last of the Barons Edward IV, and the frank, uncomplicated masculinity of Harold Godwinson and Earl Warwick. Bulwers historical novels show a ubiquitous concern with identifying the true strains of maleness and masculine vigor throughout past ages, even if they find the most admirable qualities mixed and muddled in peoples like the Saxon race, with its large qualities undeveloped, but marked already [in the eleventh century] by patient endurance, love of justice, and freedom the manly sense of duty and that indestructible element of practical purpose and courageous will ( Harold 1: ix ). It fits with Bulwers celebratory tribute to such manly strains a preoccupation of later historical novelists with worldviews similar to Bulwers, notably Kingsley that some type s of men can intuit the qualities, uses, and nuances of landscapes and spaces, while others cannot. In Harold, Bulwers survey of masculinities blends explicitly with a survey of the land in Books Six and Seven, when the ambivalent Norman observer/spy Mall et de Graville accompanies a Saxon army on its march into Wales, hoping to assess William Is chances of defeating Harold in battle. Graville first contrasts Norman daintiness with Saxon bluntness, a common theme of historical novels dealing with the socalled Norman yoke as far back as Ivanhoe But in conversation with an English abbot, Graville rapidly characterizes the decline of the Saxon race as a decline in vigor and purity, a degeneration that touches on race, religion, class and landscape in one s weeping description.9 9 Bulwers narrator echoes some of these ideas, stating that inactivity and enervate superstition had relaxed the sinews of the old Saxon manhood (1:277).
192 if fighting must be, I see that it will be the fight of a single battle, for there is neither fortress nor mountain to admit of long warfare. And look you, my friend, everything here is worn out! the old nobility are gone, there is no reverence for old names; the Church is as decrepit in the spirit as thy lath monastery is decayed in its timbers .. ( 1: 277) Gravilles inspection of Saxon vigour rapidly becomes an assessment of both the natural features of landscape and the Saxons ability to adapt that land to warlike purposes. If William were to invade, Graville declares, his first move must be to change the land: He would bristle all the land with castles and forts, and hold it as a camp ( 1: 278) But in the chapter f ollowing this statement, Graville rides ahead of the Saxon army and literally surveys the Welsh countryside on the march, noting the very indefensibility he had found lacking earlier. Graville (consistent with the generally less intuitive Normans) misses the essential Saxon man/Saxon land connection of adaptability: he fails to recognize the natural hardihood and fortress like nature of the wild country, as well as the defensible remnants of ruinous Roman fortresses and citadels. Like Scotts Sir Kenneth at the opening of The Talisman, Graville is out of step with the landscape. Harold Godwinson, however, is not. During his armys march through this west England space, everything useful and spatially stubborn and rugged has caught his knowing eye: Some houses they passed --if buildings of rough stones, containing but a single room, can be called houses --but they were deserted. There were still (not as we now scarcely discern them, after centuries of havoc,) the mighty ruins of the Romans,vast shattered wall s, a tower half demolished, the fortress, almost unmutilated, of Castelly Bryn. On the castle waved the pennon of Harold. ( 1: 285) Gravilles assumptions about the land and the people are shown to be inadequate in the reconnaissance of the surrounding countryside that follows, when Harolds skillful use of Roman ruins is complemented by the Welsh Kings adaptation of a rocky summit into an impregnable fortress. Graville soon comes to admit that though I have seen but little of this rough land as yet, I can well judge from what I have seen, that no captain could conquer a bold enemy in a
193 country where every rock is a fort ( 1: 287). In fact, one character answers (echoing The Talisman), this inability to adapt to the landscape has cost the Normans past victories.10In passages like these, the shifting and uncertain spaces of the historical novel stand in for Marshalls mists of ignorance, the forces that impeded and sometimes perverted past peoples from true knowledge but the perception and inter pretation of knowledge is also tied to discussions about different kinds of men. In keeping with his theoretical spatial description, Bulwer meticulously accounts for the significance of places and spaces, but only after depicting their hopelessly puzzling effect on his childlike characters, who do not have the benefit of his historical perspective. Yet by pitting the spatial features against Norman, Saxon and Welsh versions of maleness, he can contrast the open, frank manliness and honesty of the simple m an and the crafty connivance of the more sophisticated, civilized reasoner an opposition of masculine styles as old as Achilles and Odysseus. For instance, when the mysterious mountain height called Peny Dinas (or Head of the City) comes un der Bulwer s scrutiny in Book 7, Chapter 5 of Harold, he does his lecturers best to sort out the discrepancies among antiquaries the most learned and simply describe and measure the land in impartial fashion. This passage does not provide the occasion for legend or anecdote that it might for Scott, nor does its ambience summon up sensational narratives real or imagined as it might have for Ainsworth (though Bulwer does enlarge in an endnote on the Celtic worship practices he believes must have taken place there). B ut this cool, objective account of the place after the manner of an archaeologist or anthropologist comes only after he treats us to the Saxons reckoning of the places mysterious and unknowable qualities. The Norman Graville, whose eyes are insensitive t o moody nuances in landscape, states only the 10 [The Norman commander Rolf] insisted on using horse s where no horses could climb, and attiring men in full armour to fight men light and nimble as swallows, that skim the earth, then are lost in the clouds (1:287).
194 seemingly obvious to the Saxon commanders: Cannot our eyes perceive the towers? ( 1: 303). But the Saxons know better. The old thegn shook his head. At a distance, and through mists, stones loom large, and cra gs themselves take strange shapes. It may be castle, may be rock, may be old roofless temples of heathenesse that we see. none of us know what, there, exists of defence, man made or Nature built . ( 1: 303) Here the landscape shifts before our eyes or at least, before the eyes of the Saxons, oddly privileged despite their lack of scientific understanding from natural to architectural and back again, recalling Scotts old practice of sifting rural locations and pondering over designs. The Saxons cautious, even superstitious assessment of the land is in fact a raw quality, one of those undeveloped racial, national and masculine traits that work to their races advantage in Bulwers depiction. Their respectful navigation of these treacherous spac es is a natural and unrefined gift, which the finer (and more effeminate) skills of the educated Norman only obscures.11Bulwer expands upon this idea in his novel about Earl Warwick and the Wars of the Roses, The Last of the Barons, when he decides that t he more sophisticated powers of reflection are seldom found in combination with the Organ of Locality the gifted forester is not a deep thinker, in other words, and the person lost in thought loses his way easily (56). The Plantagenet monarchy (especially Richard III) possess the former quality, the staunch, conservative barons the latter, so that as the last of the barons Earl Warwick seems also the last of a certain kind of guileless but refined masculinity. The brilliant but nave Harold Godwinson, too, seems outfoxed by the wily, dishonest William I in Harold, and good oldfashioned Anglo Saxon strength thus 11 Graville seems to have the deceptively powerful Pen y Dinas in mind when he describes Ha rolds character later: all his faculties are so evenly balanced, and all accompanied by so composed a calm, that methinks, when I look at and hear him, I contemplate some artful castle, -the strength of which can never be known at the first glance, nor e xcept by those who assail it (2:43).
195 gives way to foreign treachery. By taking this tack in his hero stories, Bulwer is again choosing a very definite and unambiguous interpreta tion.12When Harolds end comes on the field of Hastings an end that must engage the sympathies of every true son of the land 13Lo, as we gaze around the ruins of all the creeds that have made the hearts of men quake with unsubstantial awe lo, the temple of the Briton! lo, the fane of the Roman! lo, the mouldering altar of our ancestral Thor! Ages past lie wrecked around us in these shattered sy mbols. A new age hath risen, and a new creed. Keep we to the broad truths before us; duty here; knowledge comes alone in the Hereafter. ( 2:263) ( 1: ix ) his frank and manly good sense returns, though too late, and helps him towhat else? choose good ground from which to re pel the invading Normans. His uncomplicated masculinity has by this time become long undermined by vaunting ambition and the cryptic encouragements of the witch Hilda (the same pitfalls and failings that ruined Macbeth whose history, occurring within the novels eleventh century time span, is referenced often). But he has recognized his hubris and seen the limits of his knowledge, and proclaims his rejuvenated Christian and moral vigor by berating the advice (and the spaces!) of Hilda: Though tragically too late, Harold has finally acquired Bulwers own informed vision of Hildas house, has unrav eled the riddle of its palimpsest that Bulwer and the reader studied together in the novels first chapter. He has at last become the man of his age that Bulwers Carlylean historical schema depends on, and despite Harolds belatedness, Bulwer still stands in awe of 12 His sources for Haroldlike the popular History of the Anglo Saxons (1841) by Sharon Turner were much less forthcoming about so clear cut an opposition between styles of masculinity or kingly authority, and if anything, were apt to shrug shoulders over the abilities and characteristics of both men, Harold and William. The popular story of Williams deception of Harold, that he is tricked into swearing allegiance over a hidden reliquary of sainted bones, Turner more o r less dismisses, deciding that if this be true, these two great warriors were, at least in their religion, men of petty minds (58). Turner is also very dubious about Harolds virtuousness and popularity, traits which Bulwer never seems to doubt througho ut his novel. 13 G. A. Henty elevates the struggle to a level far above mere nations and patriotism in his Wulf the Saxon (1895): Although the immediate results of the Battle of Hastings may have been of less importance to the world than were those of som e other great battles, the struggle has, in the long run, had a greater influence upon the destiny of mankind than any other similar eve nt that has ever taken place (5 ).
196 Harolds chosen ground, acknowledging his fitness to command in what is perhaps the most basic pairing of landscape with masculinity: It is impossible to stand on that spot, without recognizing the military skill with which the Saxon had take n his post, and formed his precautio ns (2:269). Harolds post has been chosen with an eye towards neutralizing Williams strengths and compelling the foe to march, and to charge, up hill ( 2:270). The final chapters of Harold show Harold and his brother s scoping both the land and the situation of the two armies upon them. On the day of battle, however, neither the ground nor the formation of the army can be retained, and the Saxons fall because (against the will of the king reader Harold) they impetuousl y abandon their good ground. Bulwer understands this defeat, elegiacally, as the necessary death of an original, true strain of Englishness and maleness. The defeat thus becomes a moral, spiritual and spatial consecration: the dying army fades into the spa ce of the hill, sanctifying it. In one last pivot to Bulwers own time and place, he notes the presence of Battle Abbeys altar stone on the spot where Harold fell, the novels final consecration of the ground of Saxon heroism and valor. Bulwer anticipate s this mammoth battle, this death of perfect and virtuous British manhood in The Last of the Barons written five years before Harold. The youthful protagonists first tour of Warwick House, grim and stately residence of the novels historical hero, includes a sort of scenic interior space that pays tribute to this final death knell of Saxon glory: a chamber painted in the style of Henry III, with huge figures representing the battle of Hastings, or rather, for there were many separate pieces, the conquest of Saxon England (112). Like nearly all of Bulwers own huge figured scenes from history, this heroic tableau comes with captions: Over each head, to enlighten the ignorant, the artist had taken the precaution to insert a label, which told the name and the subject (112). Bulwer arranges, and captions, his spaces similarly in his novels, the
197 better to fit each scene and space into his confident, Providentially guided historical scheme. As his manly heroes try to decipher the significance of these spaces, as his villains try to manipulate or distort them like Last Day s evil Egyptian Arbaces, a great trickster with space who ends up misreading the activities of Vesuvius Bulwer spells out space and history handin hand, for and with the reader. The space fo r ambiguity is an ever shrinking space the region of superstition and ignorance, all but diminished by Bulwers own historical period like the untravelld world whose margin fades / For ever and ever when I move of Tennysons Ulysses (1920). Archaeolo gy, scholarship, and the Victorian perspective have reduced this space to a shadow margin, on the outskirt of the forest, dusk and shapeless, and what had been a major space for Scott becomes in Bulwer a Border land between the Visible and the Unseen, w hich will find its priest and its votaries, till the full and crowning splendour of Heaven shall melt every shadow from the world! ( Harold 2:264). Comparison and Legacy: Masculine Space and Readers in Stevenson and Whistler British and American historic al novelists enthusiastically explore the connections between space and masculinities throughout the century, though their manifestations in the text are most frequently of the reader text sort found in Scott, where reading the text of space becomes a perf ormative test for males. The man who can be relied upon to read and navigate space correctly forest, ocean, or city space can also be relied upon to make sound moral, logistical and political judgments. So Natty Bumppo becomes a leader and hero, not just a scout in the Leatherstocking Tales. Or, to use a British example, once it has been established that Robert the boatman in G. P. R. James Ticonderoga (1854) is an uncanny reader of the Indian trails, hes considered fit to advise on other matters of the plot, and sits in the middle of the forest for a moment in silence, with the air of a Judge pondering over the merits of the case just pleaded before him, declaring his decision with utter authority (Ill tell you how it is, my Lord) (58).
198 The example i s obscure, but examples are legion, and indeed its hard to find historical novels of this period that do not feature some male character demonstrating his natural talents, finely tuned skills, powers of decision, quick judgment, or moral purity through en gagements with uncertain space. Bulwers occasional methods of using space to image maleness and masculine styles or conflicts, and of showing the noble male character to be instinctively in touch with spaces, are both taken up in different degrees by late r Victorian historical novelists. For a remarkable example of the former, we need look no further than Treasure Island, that great paragon of the historically themed boys book genre and blueprint for numerous Newbery Prize winners. As I mentioned above, Stevensons famous novel is akin to Bulwers historical fiction immediately by the far casting survey it makes of different masculine styles. After Jim Hawkins loses his own shadowy and insubstantial father at the novels beginning, a number of loud, insis tent male types come beneath his gaze, from the blustery, blue blooded Squire Trelawney, to the Whiggish, commonsensical professional man Doctor Livesey, to the grim, puritanical manof duty Captain Smollett. The problem is (as any juvenile reader of the novel will tell you) that John Silver the pirate combines all of the best qualities of these potential father figures in a much more agreeable, exciting package. Having learned of his treachery just before reaching Treasure Island, Jim seems to see John Si lvers disturbing preeminence among men reflected in the nightmarish landscape of the island: The hills ran up clear above the vegetation in spires of naked rock. All were strangely shaped, and the Spy glass, which was by three or four hundred feet the ta llest on the island, was likewise the strangest in configuration, running up sheer from almost every side, and then suddenly cut off at the top like a pedestal to put a statue on. (69) Jim grasps viscerally that Spy glass Hillalready nominally connected with John Silver, whose inn had been called the Spy glass is much taller than the competing hills but is also the
199 strangest in configuration; its space bizarrely echoes John Silvers physical handicap (suddenly cut off) and the heroic place Jim had awarded him in his thoughts (the empty pedestal). This disturbingly reflective space in a novel literally written to fill a space, to accompany a map immediately changes Jims mind about his adventure: from that first look onward, I hated the very thought of Treasure Island (69). But it is only by grappling with the islands churning, primordial space that Jim will become a man. Bulwers joining of the noble male leader and instinctual s patial knowledge gets adapted more rarely by later novelists than some of his other ideas, but we can still find it in novelistic adaptations of legends like Havelok the Dane (1900) by C. W. Whistler. The titular protagonist, a larger than life rural hero who does not know he is the rightful king of a minor Danish kingdom, predicts his future kingship of Lincoln by dreaming about land: about owning it, gathering it to himself, and even eating it. Haveloks dreams might be nothing but a safe acknowledgment o f his ambition if they did not accurately predict the layout of Lincoln township: And ever as we drew nearer Havelok became more silent, as I thought because he had never seen so great a town before, until we passed the gates of the stockade that keeps the town that lies without the old walls, and then he said, looking round him strangely, "Brother, you will laugh at me, no doubt, for an arrant dreamer, but this is the place whereto in dreams I have been many a time. Now we shallcome to yon turn of the road among the houses, and beyond that we shall surely see a stone arched gate in a great wall, and spearmen on guard thereat." It was so, and the gate and guard were before us in a few more steps. ( 68) Whistlers Havelok thus dreams his way into owning and ruling a space, one of many naturally aristocratic qualities that proclaim him fit to rule to his followers and enemies alike. That Whistler adapts the characteristic from his verse romance source material suggests that Bulwer, who modeled such spatial g ifts with his noble characters, employed more romantic methods than critics commonly acknowledge.
200 New Regions: Bulwers Dream Lands and the Space of Fantasy For all Bulwers commitment to a new certainty to go along with his new seriousness, for all hi s pretensions to founding his novels on the secure, if less enclosed ground of historical fact, the fact remains that the shadow margin does still exist in his novels; he still validates the spaces of un knowledge and their priests and votaries. If, as I have argued, historical novel space often equates with types of knowledge, its easy to see in Bulwers captioned or diagramed historical sites a correlation between the actual place and the accepted fact, and between the probable or typical space and the theoretical fact (or speculation). But Bulwers locating historical fact or probability does not eradicate the purely fictional space from his novels; it only makes them more obviously, prominently fictional. Therefore, the most purely imaginative spa ce in Bulwer becomes the dream region, a space Bulwer characterizes as hellish or inferno esque, an underground and almost capriciously transformable nether space. We can also see, in the peculiarly calculated House of Hilda Ive already described, a theor etical space that is also the domain of nonChristian religious creeds and practices, and thus a space where fantastic dreams and fantastic realities can safely take place. Since the dream sequences of Last Days and Harold end up being prophetic, and Hilda s own prophecies are borne out more than a dozen times, these shadowy spaces are not just spaces of superstition but of knowledge: a supernatural and future knowledge, oddly validated by an author usually cautious or contemptuous about such pretensions to truth. In the prolonged dream sequences that take place in Last Days and in H arold, which seem to occur in foul, subterranean regions, and in the metaphysically contested space of Hildas House, we see space equating with a particularly sinister kind of s upernatural cosmology a diabolical schema to counter the novels central thrust towards recognizing a providentially guided progress. As one critic notes, Bulwers acceptance of the teleological view of history] includes a recognition of the horrifying ex tent
201 and reality of evil in the world (Christensen 113). Thus comes his late pronouncement in Harold that only Christs return will melt every shadow from the world: the shadowy spaces that remain are real and significant, though they are metaphysical, not geographical. Bulwer is not so ready to flirt with the unknown as Scott was; he accordingly labels these spaces known but dangerous, immoral, or (sometimes overtly) satanic. Dream spaces seem designed to complement the novels precognitive visionari es, the soothsayers who still have their place in Bulwers version of the past but who, unlike their counterparts in Scott, are shown actively to be working against the true moral and godly course of events. Like First Samuels Witch of Endor or Macbeth s Witches, Bulwers clairvoyants are likely to be tempters and deceivers, dealing in half truths, winning characters over with honest trifles to betray them in matters of deepest consequence. Such matters are often historically important, meaning that Bulwer seemingly contradicts his historical commitment by locating historical events within wholly fictional and unrealistic spaces. Bulwers creation of this recognizably fantastic space in his otherwise scholarly historical reconstructions show the genres fi rst major step off the map of history. The novels dreamscapes are also truth spaces, for all their mythological qualities: they are regions accorded great power by Bulwer, where accurate prophecies are pronounced and fantastic actions have historical co nsequences. His historical novels prepare us, therefore, for certain kinds of twentieth century romantic fantasy novel rather than the modern social novel, the trajectory most often traced by criticism. Bulwers first visitor to an extensive dream region is Arbaces, Egyptian priest and villain of The Last Days of Pompeii who imagines himself called to account before a giantess representing nature on Pompeiis last night (in Book Five, Chapter One). As though to take a
202 curse off his dream space, Bulwer anno unces that Arbaces strange dreams were colored by the peculiar philosophy he embraced, thus signaling that in this region alone Christian providence and purpose might not hold sway (473) There follows a description of an underground space that has no precedent in Scott or Ainsworth unless it be to the cavernous space of the White Lady in The Monastery : a mighty cavern supported by enormous columns of rough and primeval rock, with shadow spaces that stretched away into galleries and are d imly lit by erratic fires (473). The White Ladys cave had been located within The Monastery s unholy ground, its fantastic precinct, Corrie nan shian; Bulwers similar space has been located even more distinctly and emphatically away from the real. The visible interior space of the cave is taken up by what appear to be flowing spirits or souls and the machinery of a massive loom, with huge wheels, that whirled round and round unceasingly; from this infernal machine the giantess, Fate like, apparently weaves li fe and reality ( 473474). From the material of unborn and dead souls she works with, Arbaces distinguishes the erratic lights, which the giantess identifies as the glimmerings of such knowledge as is vouchsafed to Nature to work her way, to trace enough of the past and future to give providence to her designs ( 475 ). Here in this dream region, Arbaces is compelled (his feet, by some secret agency, were impelled towards the female) to consider truths and realities that his own scientific methods of acquir ing knowledge cannot gain (the giantess calls him a d ark fool of the sciences!) (474, 475 ). This prophetic being, who rouses allegorical spirits to foretell Arbaces doom, is not a vision of the divine but rather the Incarnation of the sublime (474). T he sublime, that undecidable, indeterminate category that Scotts scenery slipped into unexpectedly, here possesses her own distinct region, a hellish and mythological space that transforms (the scene suddenly changed ) into a death space, a place of human bones ( 476 ).
203 Arbaces dream is confirmed by the unfolding of the plot; it is prophetic in this way, then, but also in its implication that Vesuvius will erupt, a prophecy that the landscape has already proclaimed. Harold Godwinsons dream in Harol d, however, is also bound up in the clairvoyant Hildas interpretations of it, and as such takes part in Bulwers positioning of alternate supernatural knowledge against Christian providence. Harold begins the recital and spatial descriptionof his dream only after Hilda has declared his visions to be ora cles, more true than living (1:148). Harolds dream is of falling into a fathom deep pit, into gatherings of bones, like the climax of Arbaces dream. In this underground region, Harold does battle wit h sentient bones and skeletons while one skull grows into a colossal armed figure, like War, made incarnate, and the scenery around their battleground goes through plague like transformations, the earth changing to an ocean of blood ( 1:149). Harold relat es how his dream space shifts once more to a vision like the Norse Valhalla before he stops his recital, and Hilda proclaims the dream indecipherable at first, although she confidently tells him, In thy dream lies thy future ( 1:151). Later in Book Six, H ildas fuller interpretation of the dream stokes Harolds kingly ambitions: the battle with the bones means Harold will overcome past lines of kings and found a new royal line, while the visit to heroic Valhalla represents his own coronation. In this subt erranean region with its mixture of Hebrew and Norse mythological features, Harold Godwinson is tempted, Macbethlike, to make the most of his ability and opportunity and vie for the crown, a decision he expresses in spatial terms: I look round in England for the coming king, and all England reflects but my own image (1:255256). Although Bulwer is fully prepared elsewhere in the novel to declare the fitness of Harolds kingship, calling him at one point the Man of the Land and the Time, his initial ambition and the uncharacteristic
204 evasiveness and calculation that follow from it are both attributed to this dream and to Hildas interpretation. Harolds kingship may be historically determined, but his decline and tragedy are both supernaturally determined, according to Bulwer. This idea becomes plainer when we consider that Harolds dream has followed a waking vision, glimpsed in the uncertain light and landscape near Hildas palimpsestic house. Harold sees a huge, sorrowful warrior indistinctly near the bloody altar of the Warrior god, a figure who appears suddenly and then fades into the grey columns and dim fane ( 1:134). The figures proximity to the tomb of an old pagan soldier persuades Hilda to conjure a demon (successfully!) to answer Harolds m ost pressing questions about William of Normandy questions which are, after the manner of Scotts White Lady and Shakespeares witches, answered cagily and in rhyme. The demon seems to augur favorable results to Harolds cause if he travels to Normandy, but in fact, it is during this trip that Harold is tricked into swearing allegiance to William, providing the latter with the pretense to invade England. Bulwer has written almost wearily of the the dark superstition that still consulted the deities of the North by runes on the elm bark and adjurations of the dead (1:xvi ), yet the character that embodies such superstitions in Harold has her powers validated, and in such a way that it leads to the novels historical crux. Harolds final denouncement of Hildas magic for the new creed of Christianity does not make her magic any less effective: like the Witch of Endor who conjures up the spirit of Samuel prior to Sauls destruction, Hildas conjuring of demons and precognition are permitted by sovereign acts of God, as tools to lead Harold and England to their destiny. Bulwer assures the reader at the beginning of Harold that only in matters of private life has he engaged his poetic license, yet the single most important decision Harold Godwinson makes in the novel takes place in this historically theoretical space, which is also a supernaturally
205 charged space of superstition and a link to the dream space of metaphysical truth. By granting such power to Hilda and to the magical space of her strange abode14The truthful or serious does not mean the journalistic nor the realistic historical novel in Bulwers view; history need not be composed of such prosaic stuff. His use of supe rnatural materials alongside strictly factual, even didactic narratives carries over into juvenile and religious historical fiction. More broadly, it contributes to the general notion that historical truths can be conveyed to the young without be strictly accurate or even historical. Bulw er makes clear that his novels are interested in moral truth as much as historical fact, and that even conjured demons can find their way into serious historical fiction, provided their doings fit correctly into the hierarchy of knowledge both moral/religious and historical knowledge, the natural fact and the supernatural revelation. When the format, formulae and techniques of the historical novel are detached from actual history and from actual spaces and places, the result is a certain prevalent type of fantasy novel: those chronicles of other worlds and Medieval styled kingdoms whic h begin with Haggard and George Macdonald and continue into the twentieth century with C. S. Lewis and Tolkien. Such a trajectory is not, of course, that which is described by typical historical novel surveys and criticism, but it is that which sustained t he most popular momentum throughout the Victorian century. When authors like Bulwer decided that the history meted out within a historical novel should not be desultory, but decidedly moral and didactic; when they decided that their productions should be (in Bulwers phrase) entrusted fearlessly to the young ( Harold 1:vii ) ; 14 Bulwer makes it clear in many ways that the House of Hilda is in fact a privileged place, a spot where uncertain magical powers are allowed full sway. Both Harold and Edith the Fair see mystical visions arising from the Druid stones in this setting, and Hilda herself meets a mysterious and nameless witch in this same spot who forecasts Hildas own doom.
206 when the truths conveyed by such novels need not depend on the realism of the depiction, so that magical and marvelous characters could hold their heads up boldly then the stage was s et for the historical novel to cater more and more to children, to depict religious conflicts and metaphysical subjects, and finally to intermix with pure fantasy. As with the uncertain, shifting and transmutable spaces of the historical novel Ive charact erized in this study, such a direction should not seem counter intuitive. Indeed, the same spaces Franco Moretti decides are indigenous to the historical novel forests, mountains, natural borders are exactly the domains of J. R. R. Tolkiens Ring trilogy: Waverley Novels in their pacing, their journey motifs, their smatterings of dialect speech and snatches of balladry, their dependence on lore and legendin all except their attachment to real peoples and places. Bulwer anticipates this tide, both in his inclusion of major characters like Hilda in Harold and the sorcerer Almamen in Leila and in the fantastic elements of his metaphysical and occult novels (like Pilgrims of the Rhine  and Zanoni ). In Edward Eigners account of the impurities that, by Bulwers time, most fiction was struggling to refine away, but which lived on in the metaphysical genre, its easy to see features of the historical novel palimpsest: dramatically gratuitous characters, authorial intrusions, episodes, inset stories, digressions, multiple narrators, mixed genres and generic contrast (3 4). Realist fiction gradually rooted out these bits of extraneous matter, Eigner argues, on a course leading to the pristine unity of The Ambassadors (3). Bulwers metaphysically themed historical novels, with their shadow realms and focus on invisible conflicts (Christensen xiii), work harder than most midnineteenth century historical novels to keep this generic mixture in use, and so to preserve the paradigm for the fantasy novel.
207 Perhaps the most approachable way to see the continuity between the historical novel and fantasy novels for children or adults which is, after all, another great paradox of the genre, since fact fiction seemingly leads to fictional worlds entirely made up is to look at the land. The move of historical novel techniques off the map of history and the world usually involves a new mapping: the setting down of a new physical space with which to plot the s torys journey, whether that space is the chessboard that appears at the beginning of Through the LookingGlass or the detailed rendering of Middle Earth that appears at the beginning of The Hobbit The implication is clear: however much the subjects of some celebrated historical novels point us to modern reality, the methods of the historical novels, particularly their methods of handling space, point us to romance and fantasy, to the marvelous, unrealistic and unknowable. The dramatic shift from real spac e to new space, like the change from documented fact to fantastic absurdity, occurs within the narrow confines of Bulwers relatively short essay into historical fiction; what makes it particularly dramatic in Bulwer (if not obnoxious) is his need to ass ign the fantastic elements their own permitted spaces. Like Scotts so problematic spatial allotment in The Monastery, history joins fiction, historical space adjoins fantasy space visibly in Bulwer you can see the seams, can appreciate how the new in the style of matches the old original (or at least, you are meant to appreciate it) in his theoretical reconstructions, and can admire the rhapsodic departures from history that take place in his dream visions. But as Ive noted above, Bulwers foregrounding of the joining of fiction and nonfictional narratives and his fussing over legitimate domain basically the area where the novelist may safely invent have the effect of diminishing his historical fictions as fictions Historical fiction, as I have argued, depends upon sleight of hand. Conscientiously pointing out the real parts of the historical novel cannot fail to make the improvised parts, and the novel as a whole, seem
208 noticeably unreal and less important. Bulwers pedantry and slavishness to sources is usually the cited reason for his works stiltedness, but (I would argue) the effect has more to do with the way he self consciously pits one domain against the other. Spatially, this means his spaces do not shift and overlap, do not make use of ambig uity nearly as much as Scott and most of his contemporaries. Bulwers criticism of Scott, not for lack of accuracy so much as lack of invention, may mean nothing more than his noting Scotts reluctance to reconstruct fictions in strict accordance with the record and to parse out the fictional and the historical into identifiable spaces. Even in a body of work so dominated by intrusive narrators as the early historical novel, this narratorial posturing offends, contributing to those self conscious mannerisms that Christensen reckons have probably been chiefly responsible for Bulwers declining reputation (x xi). Where Scott had always been cagey about sources and even narrators, where his real sites and events had been diluted by conflation, conjecture, and fabrication, the history blending unevenly and unexpectedly with the fiction, Bulwer (frankly, openly) distinguishes the real from the fake, making the real seem bookish and pedantic, the fake ever more fake. No mystification remains; if Scott was the Wizard of the North, Bulwer seems the much less awesome Pedagogue, perhaps Custodian, of the South. But Bulwers failings only make the genres collective strengths more evident. Readers who balk at Bulwers inclusion of conjured demons in the space of historical fiction have forgotten Scotts ghostly apparition of Old Alice in The Bride of Lammermoor or his haunted Chamber of the Red Finger in The Betrothed Not Bulwers method but his manner intrudes here, veering his historical novels away from the g enres nineteenth century ethos of making history seem not verifiable, classifiable, distinct, but uncertain, ambiguous, indistinct. His use of space
209 thus complements the new self conscious seriousness he brings to the genre: he is serious enough about his histories to keep the utterly fantastic narratives in subterranean or even cerebral spaces all their own.
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION The novel is a vast field of experiment, open to all the forms of genius. It is the future epic, the only one, probably, that modern manners will hereafter justify. Let us not bind it too tightly; let us not lay down its theory too rigidly; let us not organize it. --Sainte Beauve This studys move towards the different reorientations I indicated in my introduction has been to a large degree an attempt to rehabilitate the historical novel, both by opening up the genres definitions, boundaries and practices, and by repositioning its oeuvres against assumptions and techniques governing the mainstream novel. Instead of recognizing as historical fiction only novels that focus on particular (recent or regional, authentic) chronotopes, employ a specific understanding of history, or operate only in realistic modes of writing, I broadly recommend that criticism adapt crite rion to the body of work by finding features and traits that connect the genres many variations, rather than relegate most of its representatives to obscurity. One specific, significant and revelatory connection, I have argued, is in the fluid, metaphoric al, and rhetorical representations of space found across the genre during the nineteenth century. Studying space is a way (or at least a way in) towards correcting long standing critical under estimations of the historical novels representational compl exity. Drawing not on its new influences but upon the old, the historical novels poetic space allows the novelists convictions about history, narrative and the meaning of reality to gush over into the landscape, providing a conduit for cosmological asses sments outside of the historical. Space might therefore be mysteriously sublime and threatening in Scott, vacillating between chaos and artificiality in Ainsworth, or teleologically ordered and determined in Bulwer. Its fluidity and flexibility thus enab les extrahistorical narratives to function within the form, whether supporting or resisting the narrators official interpretation.
If the genres uncertain space did nothing else, it would show the form to be more complicated and rich than has been supposed. But as I have argued, historical novel space is multifunction as well as multiform. Spaces tendency to shift from realistic to artificial or dramatic allows the novelist to heighten the composition of scenes, making them more rhetorical or mood y as needs must, but it also emphasizes the larger cultural or spiritual questions under scrutiny by reducing the physical environment to prop scenery like backdrops in a morality play. Of particular importance, spaces imaging and measuring of its masculine protagonists, common in the genre from Scott onwards, allows another dimension of characterization to play out in a form commonly criticized for its deficient psychology and characterization from the outside only; further, it extends characterization in a particularly resonant and romantic way, tapping into a herolandscape connection at least as old as Arthurian legend. This focus on making and measuring manliness gives the genre another level of didacticism apart from its ability to revivify schoolbo ok history, thus making it ideal for juvenile consumption. These various functions of space link the genres ethos and methodology across its spectrum, relating canonical, romantic, religious and juvenile historical novels in ways that other classifiers (l ike historical vision or the level of historical research) have failed to do. The main reason space is such an important means for understanding the whole genre lies in its use as an epistemological index. As I have argued throughout this study, historica l novel space reflects, images, opposes, and interrogates knowledge, methods of knowing and (by mixing genres) representations of knowing. The assumptions about knowing that its poetic uses challenge or sometimes undermine are the same assumptions that hav e caused the historical novel to be parsed into worthy/unworthy piles, and diminished and marginalized in the critical history of the novel. Simply put, t raditional surveys of the historical novel have tended either to
follow a trend of lost confidence in historical knowledge throughout the nineteenth century or to describe the development of particular understandings of the historical process. It is not so much that the neglected historical romance, religious, or juvenile historical novels of the era did not understand the past as past, but that they continued to embrace boldly and confidently progressive and providential visions of the past (like Bulwers) that have been misunderstood by critics, thus contributing to the genres ever shrinking canonical representation and reputation. For instance, Avrom Fleishmans The English Historical Novel describes an increased muddying of what constitutes historical knowledge in the genre, moving from Scott through Dicken s two versions of revolution ( Barnaby Rudge and A Tale of Two Cities ) to what Fleishman calls antihistorical novels like Thackerays H enry Esmond, and so on to experimental historical fiction which avoid history while still resonating with historical themes: Hardys The Trumpet Ma jor Conrads Nostromo, and Woolfs Orlando among others. For all its valuable insights, Fleishmans survey has little to do with the historical novel genre proper and instead traces a decline in Victorian confidence, or a passage from Enlightenment Romant ic to Modern conceptions of what history is and does. It helps explain how the genre contributed (negatively) to modernist literatures developing themes of nihilism, relativism and fragmented human identity; it does not characterize what the historical novel did under its own steam. On the other hand, Georg Lukacs seemingly erratic path through the genre (Scott, Manzoni, Pushkin, Balzac, Tolstoy, Thackeray, ErckmannChatrian, Rolland, Ferdinand Meyer, and Feuchtwanger) does not trace a loss of confidence, but the development of a particular understanding of historical process. As such his path is not so erratic, but it is extremely selective. Contrary to Fleishman, Lukacs overtly resists those historical fictions that suggest history is unknowable, w hich do not so much get the historical process wrong as fail to
acknowledge history altogether (223225). It is less aesthetic variation but differences in historical vision that determine Lukacs selection and focus. Even his claim to examine overall and typical forms of the historical novel evinces a particular epistemological and cosmological set of assumptions; he therefore avoids representatives of extreme decadencethat is, novels in which the disintegration of realism is most evident (251). Th ese two traditional takes on the genre have one broad characteristic in common: each selects representative novels for scrutiny based on their conformity to contemporary standards of realism. Such selectivity has a prohibitive and distorting effect, impl ying that the historical novel is largely a failed or compromised attempt at realistic social fiction, since most of the genres constituent authors have been omitted from the surveys and many of its essential characteristics are discounted. My reassertion of figurative and paradigmatic genre spaces (along with Judith Wilts unifying comparison of Scottish and Chivalry Waverley Novels and Fiona Robertsons study of Gothic elements in Scott) thus participates in a growing effort to correct this trend, reclai ming the historical novels stylized form and epic ethos.1 1 Lukacs confirms the genres epic ethos, of course, though in a particularly qualified way. For instance, Scotts realistic depiction of society from the bottom implies other social and representational levels, according to Lukacs; accurately conveying the world maintaining thus implies and evokes the world historical and epic. However, this qualified attestation only applies (again) to a social bottom that Scott could realistically describe, i.e. the regional and the recent chrono tope of Britains historical recent memory. Only part, and a relatively small part, of Scotts novels are epic, according to this criteria. This ethos should stand as a counterpoint to the received tradition of realistic social fiction in literary criticism. A recognition by criticism that the historical novel did not merely provide a lessened or decadent version of the realist novels world, but that it in fact sought to describe a higher degree of experience, would significantly alter the history of the novel. This higher or perhaps heightened ethos embraces a number of dimensions typically under emphasized by novel critics, dimensions that are certainly poetic even when they are not overtly Romantic or romanticist; with or
without the dreaded disqualifier, then, the historical novel sought to construct a broader kind of realit y, a fuzzier kind of truth (yet from a nineteenth century perspective, a more profound one) than the epistemologically surefooted, because more modestly aimed, realistic social novel. Reconciling the nineteenth centurys high regard for the historical novel in all its varieties and literary criticisms struggle to refine away some its most common, unrealistic attributes means, crucially, recognizing the genres greater capacity and inclination for metaphor, metonymy, symbol, conceit, and other poetic devices. Why do the finest historical novels, Harry. E. Shaw wonders, seem flawed when compared with the best standard fiction? (30). Shaw decides that the answer lies in the relationship between the particular and the universal in fiction, arguing that the historical novelist is burdened with creating characters who represent social groups and historical trends; this ascent up the scale from particularity to generality necessarily means the historical novel must have only partial esthetic success in mirroring reality (30 31). The judgment is brilliant, provided we assume the historical novel is invested in solely mirroring a particular kind of empirical reality, of the same sort celebrated in realist fiction. But as the genres representative charact ers and indeed, its representative spaces attest, its nineteenth century understanding of reality was much broader and inclusive, much more comfortable with uncertainty. As Ive argued, the exclusion of prolific and popular historical novelists like Ains worth, Bulwer, G. P. R. James and G. A. Henty from criticism has had restrictive and distorting effects for the genre study, but it also reflects the change in attitude about the historical novels relationship to the mainstream novel that began to take pl ace in the mid to late Victorian Era. Harold Orel characterizes this shift in part in his survey of the genre, The Historical Novel From Scott to Sabatini (1995), especially contrasting the prevalent enthusiasm for the historical novel
during the Great Wa r years with the apathy and even hostility that emerged in the years following. As Orel argues, the sensationalism and glamour that made the swashbuckling historical romance popular during World War One hardships were the very components post war readers found objectionable, so that historical fiction in general came to be considered escapist and frivolous in the 1920s (159, 161): Whether or not one thinks of this shift in critical taste regrettable, or the decline insales of such fictions a poignant commentary on the loss of faith in oldfashioned literary values, the direct consequence was that for some fifteen years after the end of the Great War, not a single one of the important novelists born after 1880those who came to dominate the market in t he 1920s thought it worthwhile to write historical romances. (162163) Even prior to the decline in popularity that Orel attributes to Great War disillusionment, however, the historical novel had ceased to be a form favored by serious or highbrow authors, but like other forms of genre fiction had become mainly a popular form. At the same time that Chesterton was slyly apologizing for popular fiction in The Defendant and Brander Matthews was claiming that the best historical novels are those in which [self conscious] history is of the least importance (21), new editions of Scott, Bulwer, and Dumas sold in record numbers, and numerous popular novelists (Conan Doyle, John Buchan, Anthony Hope and Rafael Sabatini, to name a few) swelled the ranks with new his torical novels. Just as the old novelists had provided inspiration for operatic and dramatic stages in the early nineteenth century, the new novelists works were enthusiastically adapted to the new popular medium of film. The swashbuckler was born. I w ould argue that the trend Orel notes, of popular adaptation and simultaneous critical disregard, therefore connects the historical novels marginalization with Modern and New Critical aesthetic assumptions about high and middle brow categories of fiction. After all, it did not require the Great War to make readers complain of the historical novels frivolous or
escapist tendencies; critics had been doing so at least since G. H. Lewes offered his satirical recipe in 1846: Sprinkle largely with love a nd heroism, keep up the mystery overhanging the heros birth till the last chapter; and have a good stage villain, scheming and scowling through two volumes and a half, to be utterly exposed and defeated at last and the historical novel is complete. (qtd i n Campbell 70) Lewes aside takes curmudgeonly note of the old elements at work in the genre as opposed to the newreally, an argument in the same spirit as that Lukacs would make a century later. Orels historical situating of disenchantment with the genre makes sense as an indicator of a public mood flux following World War One, but it does not describe a decline in historical novels, written or read, so much as a solidifying of critical disregard: not a single one of the important novelists wrote h istorical novels, he claims, seemingly forgetting that the critics, not the novels original readers, have decided which novelists were important. Whereas Victorian critics had tried to separate the worthy and healthy historical novels from the trash, neve r doubting that the form was capable of great things, not a single Modern critic (Orel might have said) thought historical novelists important. This judgment, rooted in part in modernitys loss of historical confidence and distrust of literary traditions, has unfortunately stuck. The solution to this problem not only of rehabilitating the genre from its trashy reputation, but also, more importantly, of reincorporating it into the history of the novel is to resist the categorial tug of war implicit in the g enres impossible nature, the struggle between fact and fiction, and to recognize the form as a highly figurative amalgamation aiming at broader, more poetic and philosophical truths about reality. The Victorians typical solution of dividing the genre between serious novels and fluffy romances has only created confusion. The curiously persistent Modern solution of considering the form an imperfect subgenre of realist fiction has gradually led to its exclusion from criticism and the canon. While various twentieth -
century critics have sometimes convincingly described the genres negative influence demonstrating, say, how George Eliot resists making Scott like digressions to bring structural unity to Middlemarchsuch accounts bring us not one jot nearer to understanding its positive contribution to Victorian novels or (for that matter) to explaining why George Eliot loved Scott. The sheer popularity of the form and its practitioners extends the net much farther than Britain. Not enough that we read tragic causation in Emma Bovarys taste for Scott; we must reconcile that with Flauberts own meticulous historical romance writing. Not enough that we take Twain at his sarcastic word contra Scott and Cooper; we must explain his preferring Joan of Arc over all his other novels. Only when we account adequately for the historical novels formidable presence in standard nineteenthcentury novels can we appreciate the nuances of realist fictions resistance to its most familiar unrealistic or romantic features.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Thomas Glynn Bragg, Jr., is a graduate student of the University of Florida living in Gainesville, Florida. After nearly a decade of occupations, including aircraft technicia n, waiter, truckloader, and manager of several bookstores, he returned to college, graduating with honors from the University of North Florida in 2000 and earning a m aster s degree from the University of Florida in 2004. Primarily interested in Romantic and Victorian Literature, he is a two time recipient of the Kirkland Fellowship for Victorian Studies at the University of Florida. The focus of his graduate studies has been on genre fiction, especially marginal and noncanonical historical novels