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MARTIN MEISEL Waverley, Freud, and Topographical Metaphor The platonic relation between Scott and Marx as historians of society has already been argued by one great critic; 1 that between Scott and Freud as geographers of the self has been less definitively approached. I should like to contribute to the latter argument by establishing a congruence, both conceptual and metaphoric. I do not claim to be able to demonstrate a direct influence of Scott on Freud, though I do suggest an influence through the mainstream of European literature with which Freud was so familiar, and that he made such good use of. I do not offer psychoanalytic conclusions on either of the authors in question, nor do I offer a psychoanalytic account of the character who will suffer most from my attentions, Edward Waverley.2 Rather I pursue a connection between Scott and Freud through the structural metaphor that defines both Waverley and his fictive world, and joins his personal rites of passage to those of an age. In the telling congruence of this metaphor with some of Freud's imagery lies a clue to one part of Scott's imaginative achievement : as the creator of a historical fiction making inner sense for the nineteenth century of the ontogeny of the self in a changing world. To reconcile the gospels of Freud and Marx, or (to put it another way) to unite systematically the interiorities of character and its development with the externalities of social conflict and social evolution, would be to achieve something like a unified field theory for the history and structure of the self and that of society. It is arguable that with just such a synthesis Scott opened the century from which Marx and Freud emerged. For the moment I want to glance at the backgrounds of that structural metaphor, cultural and intellectual, in history and historiography, with reference to Scott alone. Scott entered the field as a novelist at a time of 'drastic change in the rate of change' - one very good definition of a revolution3 - in 'an age of acceleration' as Carl Woodring names it,4 though at a moment when some thought it possible to reverse direction and restore much that had been lost. Aside from making people conscious of change, the acceleration altered and indeed temporalized local geography. Starting near the middle of the eighteenth century (where UNIVERSITY DFTORONTD QUARTERLY, VOLUME XLvm , NUMBER 3, SPRING 1979 0042.0247/79/0500-0226$01.50/0 © UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS 1979 Scott sets his first novel}, an expanding population, the beginnings of an agricultural revolution, the marked growth of urban centres, improvements in transportation and communication for which these provided the hub, new industries and inventions, a new century, apocalyptic political events and a transformation of the scale of war, and in Britain a political unification more thorough than anything before, all helped produce a sense of change as something affecting and connecting everything , but radiating from the centre, so that displacement in space was the equivalent of a displacement in time. The geography of Britain then gave this equivalence a persuasively schematic character. The relation between the geographic, indeed the topographic, and the temporal is stated feelingly in William Howitt's Rural Life of England whose two volumes begin with Progress and end with nostalgia. 'Let every man who has a sufficiency for the enjoyment of life thank heaven most fervently that he lives in this country and age: he begins. But he ends by regretting the rapid disappearance of 'the fashion of the ancient rural life of England: and suggests something like a graduated regression where distance - thanks to topography - is a measure of time. 'It is the fate of champaign countries, to have their rustic customs sooner obliterated than those of mountain regions. The Scotch still retain their penny-weddings and Halloweens, the Welsh their regular wedding customs, and funeral customs as Singular; but how wonderfully have the simple customs on these occasions of our English hamlets dwindled in ourdays!'S Howitt, who expresses general attitudes and perceptions in a world Scott had already influenced, has the company of philosophers more profoundly implicated in the new historical thinking. Hegel in his course...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 226-244
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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