The Lady of the Lake

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Bibliotech Press, Sep 23, 2020 - 264 pages

The Lady of the Lake is a narrative poem by Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1810. Set in the Trossachs region of Scotland, it is composed of six cantos, each of which concerns the action of a single day. There are voluminous antiquarian notes. The poem has three main plots: the contest among three men, Roderick Dhu, James Fitz-James, and Malcolm Graeme, to win the love of Ellen Douglas; the feud and reconciliation of King James V of Scotland and James Douglas; and a war between the Lowland Scots (led by James V) and the Highland clans (led by Roderick Dhu of Clan Alpine). The poem was tremendously influential in the nineteenth century, and inspired the Highland Revival.

The first hint of The Lady of the Lake occurs in a letter from Scott to Lady Abercorn dated 9 June 1806, where he says he has 'a grand work in contemplation ... a Highland romance of Love Magic and War founded upon the manners of our mountaineers'. He saw this as doing for the Highlands what The Lay of the Last Minstrel had done for the Borders. But in January 1807 he had decided to postpone the Highland work in favour of Marmion since 'it would require a journey of some length into the country not only to refresh my faded or inaccurate recollection of the scenery; But also to pick up some of the traditions still floating in the memory of the inhabitants' The poem was eventually begun during a visit to the southern Highlands at the end of August and beginning of September 1809, but in the early stages it seems not to have been composed in a straightforward manner, Scott writing to his Highland correspondent Mrs Clephane on 27 October of the same year: 'I have been amusing myself with trying to scratch out a Douglas tale but this is only for your own ear and family as I have not formed any serious intention of combining or systematizing the parts I have written'. But the poem now had its name, The Lady of the Lake. Scott announced good progress in November and December. There was some interruption from legal business, but the first two cantos were in print by 14 March, and the next two by 14 April with the fifth in the press and the sixth within sight of completion. (wikipedia.org)

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