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» » The Monastery (Everyman's Library #136)
The Monastery (Everyman's Library #136) e-book


Patrick Montague Smith







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Dutton; New impression edition (June 15, 1969)





The Monastery (Everyman's Library #136) e-book

by Patrick Montague Smith

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Well written story of the fight between England and Scotland and the rise of Protestant religion in the area. Another great book by Scott
Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832): The Monastery (Clear Print). Teddington, Middlesex: The Echo Library 2006. 651 pages.

Written in 1820, immediately after the publication of "Ivanhoe", Scott's "The Monastery" returns to the "safe ground" of the Scottish Borders. The main action of the novel takes place in the mid-16th century during the time when Elizabeth I. was Queen of England and Mary Queen of Scots was still sovereign of the independent state of Scotland. This was the period of the Reformation, carried through with particular vehemence in Scotland by John Knox and others of the Reformed persuasion. The action of this story is, however, set in the "Halidome", i. e. the feudal territory, of a Roman Catholic monastery not far from the border with England, where the sub-prior, Father Eustace, has devoted his life to the defence of the old faith. One of the strands of the story is the "chance" that pits him against an old fellow-student who has become a Protestant preacher in the service of Knox and is attempting to bring the Reformed faith to the feudal subjects of the halidome. This transpires, however, only after several hundred pages devoted more to the story of the Avenel and Glendinning families, thrown together in a tower-like dwelling near the end of a secluded "glen" some miles from the monastery. The Avenels, a kind of impoverished Scottish nobility, have associated with them a fairy or spirit known as the "White Lady of Avenel". This pixie-like being puts in an appearance rather frequently during the story, speaking only in rhyme or blank verse, and by her interventions has a decisive influence on the fates of all involved. In his foreword, written for the Magnum edition some years later, Scott admits that making this spirit, who is portrayed as being capricious but neither good or evil, to play such a decisive role in the plot was something that was, in hindsight, perhaps ill-considered and that his first readers found it objectionable. Much the same is said also of the introduction of the English knight Sir Piercie Shafton, a "Euphuist" fugitive from the royal court of Elizabeth of England, whose incredible verbiosity, although historically verifiable, seems so ridiculous as to make the story at times laughable. All this is only partially redeemed by the growing heroism of young Halbert Glendinning; and the end of the story is not brought about by anything involved in the plot itself but by political intrigues and characters who appear rather like a "deus ex machina" to finish off a story which has become rather too long for its own good. But I should hasten to add that Scott's ability as a story-teller still makes this a fascinating read.

The Echo Library Clear Print edition unfortunately suffers from a serious misprint in the last chapter, where no less than 22 pages have been omitted, making the conclusion of the story impossible to fathom. The publisher obligingly sent me the missing pages when I complained, but the fact remains that the book is seriously faulted. It appears that there is little prospect of a corrected edition being printed, so I would recommend prospective readers to look for a more reliable version, for example: The Monastery
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