“Fanciful Devotion”: Ritualization in Scott’s Old Mortality

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit


Publication Date

Spring 2010


Scott's anthropological imagination is less concerned with accurately depicting Whig and Royalist rituals than with showing how ritualization separates insiders from outsiders, high from low, and the sacred from the profane. Scott's own "invention of tradition" in staging a Highland fantasy for George IV's state visit to Edinburgh is well known and suggests even less concern for accurate recreation. But the improvised rituals and invented traditions of Old Mortality are more than fantasy: despite their lack of historicity, they express historical change.


This article was originally published in Studies in Romanticism. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Studies in Romanticism