Some time ago, Scott's short story "The Two Drovers" was recommended to me as a way to step into the world of Waverley. I've read Ivanhoe, but so far my (miniscule) efforts to get interested in the Waverley novels have come to naught. I think this is partly because I thought I had to start with the first one, and really I should start with Rob Roy or Heart of Midlothian, something like that. Anyway, while I was looking for some Romantic stuff to read, I found "The Two Drovers" in that trusty old Norton anthology. It's also found in Chronicles of the Canongate with two other stories.
|Statue of a Scottish drover|
Two drovers are setting off with their herds from the border of Scotland. They'll walk to Lincolnshire to sell the cattle, and every night they'll rent fields along the way for pasturage. Robin Oig is a Highlander, well-regarded and of a proud family, and he is good friends with the younger Englishman Harry Wakefield. They often travel together. This time, though, there is an altercation, and their differing cultural temperaments prevent a reconciliation. Uh-oh.
Scott's idea in this story is to compare Highlanders, Lowlanders, and English--their differing traditions and cultures. I guess you'd call it cultural psychology? Both men are playing fair according to their lights, and yet one of them ends up dead. Just how does that happen?
I suppose Sir Walter Scott is the preeminent English Romantic novelist. England produced a lot of Romantic poets, but not so many novelists; they tended to go dark and Gothic. (I'd certainly call Gothic a sub-set of Romanticism, though, so here I mean non-Gothic Romanticism, and oh dear this paragraph is out of control.) Anyway, what with Ivanhoe and all those Scottish dramas, we've got some solid Romantic material here.
May will be Transcendentalism. I'm afraid I don't like Transcendentalism, but I will try.