Impossible Things: Scott’s Ivanhoe and the Limits of Exchange
This chapter examines Scott's claims about his methodology, claims that recall his character Rebecca's function within the novel. Both Scott and Rebecca enchant by enacting an attachment to loss that helps motor a system of exchange. However, both author and character offer another kind of magical effect that opens up the possibility for breaking out of the pathos of loss, the affect that motors this commercial culture. Although Walter Scotts Ivanhoe (1814) was one of his most popular novels, it has often been ignored by critics who have been more interested in the Waverley novels set in Scotland. The novels about Scottish historical events have appealed to a longstanding critical interest in Scott's representation of a conquered nation, in the nature of political loyalty in a nation subordinated to an imperial center, and in the relationship between a more modern England and a newly modernizing Scotland.