Walter Scott, Old Mortality

Nathan Uglow (Trinity All Saints, Leeds)
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In August 1815, just two months after the Duke of Wellington had defeated Napoleon on the killing-fields of Waterloo, Walter Scott visited the battle-site and found himself horrified by the gruesome accounts of carnage that his guides gave him.

The Tale of Old Mortality

, written a year later (published in December 1816), betrays his morbid fascination with the savage ferocity of modern (post-chivalric) war. The novel's most sympathetic characters advocate justice and conciliation as ways of preventing war, and when forced into conflict so as to enforce compromise and just settlement, they take control to minimise casualties and to save lives from the bloodlust of the mob or individual zealots.

Old Mortality was published not as a novel “by the author of Waverley”, but as part of a

2146 words

Citation: Uglow, Nathan. "Old Mortality". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 March 2002 [, accessed 21 June 2024.]

3177 Old Mortality 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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