To continue the thread from yesterday, I'd like to share a bit about the book that just showed up in the mail today - The Invention of Scotland by Hugh Trevor-Roper. It was recommended to me by the very kind head of the archives at Berea College*, when
I mentioned that I was starting to look at the Victorian era romantization of the Highland Scot, and its effect on the self identity of largely lowland-descended Americans of Ulster Scots descent. Again, Sir Walter Scott comes front and center into the picture...think of him as the Mel Gibson/Braveheart producer of his day.** Waverly is thus on the "to get through as soon as I can" list as well.
And so anyhow, the good professor here is apparently setting out to intentionally deconstruct some of the Scots myths. I've yet to get into his evidence, having only made it through the introduction over my lunch hour. But the most fascinating thing comes through in that introduction... an illuminating discussion of the author himself.
His politics seemed predominately internationalist (not unusual for his generation, which had just seen two World Wars devastate Europe), and was adamantly opposed to the growing movement towards devolution of power to Scotland. This he saw as the first step towards ultimately dissolving the Union of 1707, and ending the benefits both states saw from the union.. to say nothing (though here I am only speculating) of a dislike of a movement evolving in "wrong direction" from the academic and political elite consensus of the time pushing towards global governance.
That some degree of devolution did finally occur in the late 1990's.... on the heels of the aforementioned Braveheart is I think no small coincidence.
Our legends matter.
For it is within our stories that we see ourselves, our world, and what we deem possible.
That goes no less for us here and now in America that the Scots in 1998 or our own ancestors in 1850.
... so what tales are you reading to your family tonight?
* Incidentally? The internet? It so totally rocks when it comes to tracking down sources and making the most awesome connections. You kids in college today have no idea how good you have it. :)
** When I was your age, television was called books.