This essay contends that Scott's historical novels respond to the widespread sense of displacement in postrevolutionary Europe by activating and rewriting the figure of the remnant. As remnant tales, his novels are less about the loss of the past or its relationship to the present than about a disconnection in the present itself. Belonging neither to the past nor to the present, the remnant draws attention to modernity's temporality as that of the time lag: a suspension of connection and continuity that generates a curiously insubstantial existence in the present. Rereading Scott heroes like Edgar Ravenswood and Henry Morton as remnants, the essay traces the implications of their untimeliness, arguing that the remnant's awkward lingering moves into the foreground the problem of obsolescence and releases in the fictions a meditative-speculative mood answering to the question of how modern cultures live on.
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Ina Ferris; “On the Borders of Oblivion”: Scott's Historical Novel and the Modern Time of the Remnant. Modern Language Quarterly 1 December 2009; 70 (4): 473–494. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-2009-012
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