William Wallace in Scottish Literature

Neil Morrison

Abstract


The life of William Wallace has been one of the great themes of Scottish Literature since the Middle Ages. No pretence is made of offering a comprehensive catalogue of works on him which would be both boring and incomplete. Instead, it is proposed to examine and compare how different writers at different times have developed and contributed to the theme. The relationship between Literature and History is like a difficult marriage: the two cannot agree, yet they cannot live apart. In earlier society there was no distinction between Literature and History: the bard was the singer and the chronicler, he wrote, or recited rather, with an immediate and practical purpose, the glorification of his patron and his family. The skills were those of rhetoric, versification, imagery, declamation and memory. Today the purposes of the literary writer and the historiographer are totally different.

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