Scott's Tales of a grandfather : a reading
Rutter, Kim Uden
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This paper is an examination of Sir Walter Scott's largely overlooked works written expressly for the juvenile market. Tales of a Grandfather: History of Scotland and the uncompleted Tales of a Grandfather: History of France were written toward the end of Scott's life, after he was already a "best-selling" author of romantic novels for adults. These histories for children, based on Scottish folklore, ballads, and historical facts that Scott had been collecting all his life, are similar in time period to several of his novels. The Tales were instantly successful and provided Scott with funds that helped alleviate some of the burden of debt under which he struggled. Scott's tales are assessed in the context of the development of the children's literature genre: he was an early proponent of the encouragement of the imagination in the genre. The unmistakable Scott style is evident in the Tales of a Grandfather, in glimpses of Scott's own attitudes toward morality, class structure, politics, and history. The Tales of a Grandfather are an essential key to the understanding of Scott's art because they emphasize the type of writing he preferred: that is, history over romance. As contemporary reviews and criticism from the nineteenth century show, Scott's narrative ability and his talent for depicting character were immediately appreciated by children and adults of his day. An examination of these Tales shows that their strengths have survived the years.