Scott’s Wandering Tales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Walter Scott’s shorter fictions come in different shapes and sizes, and live in different types of publications, whether the periodical, short story collection, anthology, gift book or multivolume novel. Even completed novels were augmented with snatches of new prose that ought to be treated as separate stories. This article examines what I am calling Scott’s three main wandering tales: “The Fortunes of Martin Waldeck” (The Antiquary [1816]), “Wandering Willie’s Tale” (Redgauntlet [1824]) and “Donnerhugel’s Narrative” (Anne of Geierstein [1829]). A wandering tale is essentially a short story that can feasibly stand apart from the novel in which it first appeared but whose textual mobility depends on, and can have an impact upon, the host novel, however belatedly. Within the novels, Scott also surrounds his wandering tales with fictional audiences who comment on the meaning of the story delivered in real time, hijacking the conventions of improvisatory oral storytelling but also deploying print-based tricks that rely on the generic knowledge of readers. Reading Scott’s inset fictions as wandering tales relies on a dual understanding of the original print setting and an appreciation of the story’s resistance to the formal boundaries established within the novel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-65
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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