Sir Walter Scott 'invented English legends', claims author

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London, Aug 17 (ANI): An author has claimed that Scottish historical novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott was not only crucial in creating the idea of Scotland as it persists today, but in also 'inventing English legends'.

Speaking at the Edinburgh international book festival, Stuart Kelly argued that Scott invented a raft of English national stereotypes.

That quintessentially English hero, Robin Hood, for example, owes some of his most famous exploits to the author.

The notion of Robin's arrow splitting that of the Sheriff of Nottingham - which appears in the Disney cartoon - comes direct from 'Ivanhoe', in which Scott's character Wilfrid performs the deed.

The detail, said Kelly, was then incorporated into later versions of the Robin Hood story.

Scott was also, said Kelly, the first person to coin the phrase "the Wars of the Roses" to describe the conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster.

While the incident in which Sir Walter Raleigh laid his cloak before Elizabeth I to protect the royal footstep from a muddy puddle comes from Scott's novel Kenilworth.

Kelly went on to say that Scott was key in making "medievalism the centre of English experience", and that without him, "there would probably have been a neo-classical houses of parliament rather than a neo-gothic houses of parliament".

Kelly also pointed out that the former Prime Minister Tony Blair chose Ivanhoe as his favourite novel when he appeared on the radio show Desert Island Discs in 1996.

"It was a canny choice. Blair chose a novel that ostentatiously lauded a national unity," the Guardian quoted Kelly as writing in his new book 'Scotland: The Man Who Invented A Nation'.

"It featured a leader committed to progressive reconciliation - in its synthesis of Norman, Saxon and even Jewish elements - as an allegory of a multicultural Britain," he stated.

In terms of his effect on the reputation of his native Scotland, Kelly said Scott "invented a great simulacrum of Scotland; he invented the image of the country".

Scott's novels were the "fulcrum" around which Scotland's reputation turned.

"The fact that we still have a national identity of any kind is down to Scott," Kelly added. (ANI)

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