Exhibit: The Last Minstrel

Sir Walter Scott  & The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders. Through April 30. The exhibit by Sheila Liming (PhD candidate in English, Literary and Cultural Studies) is the latest in a series of exhibits curated by Posner Center interns and funded by the Posner Fine Arts Foundation.

ABSTRACT: He had failed as a playwright, and garnered only mediocre esteem in his career as a legal scholar, yet Walter Scott was determined to achieve success. In 1802, he convinced James Ballantyne, a publisher in whose Edinburgh operations Scott had invested a hefty sum, to publish The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders. The work was meant to be a “slim volume” consisting of traditional Scottish folk ballads collected firsthand by Scott. The published product, however, was a massive, three-volume set, containing everything from war epics, to romantic sagas, to new works designed to emulate the style and diction of Scottish folk balladry. The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders was a hit, and granted Scott wealth and prestige. This exhibit showcases the Posner Collection’s beautiful, 1810 edition of Scott’s epic Minstrelsy, and explores the vast literary network of the early nineteenth century and Scott’s rise to unprecedented, international literary fame. — Sheila Liming

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