Walter Scott and hospitality: Theory and practice

Kang Yen Chiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Scott was widely recognised by his contemporaries as a generous and gracious host. In addition to extending hospitality, a legacy inherited from his Scottish forefathers, to his visitors, Scott also wrote on themes pertaining to this virtue in many of his fictional works. For him hospitality was a distinctive cultural symbol and one of the core values which bound Scottish society together, and properly defined the very quality, nature, and essence of Scottishness. As a champion of hospitality, Scott sought to preserve this virtue at a point when it was in serious decline. However, Scott did not write about hospitality simply in celebration of the behaviour itself for his works have a great deal more to say particularly concerning the ways in which the notion of hospitality is appropriated by different groups of people for their respective purposes. In Scott's works, hospitality is, on the one hand, often defended and performed by people who have less power in society, but, on the other, is abused by those who intend to use it as a mechanism to enhance their power. Hospitality is a language carefully crafted by Scott to enable the subaltern (usually Scottish) to speak in order to compete with the mainstream voices of the dominant classes of the country (mostly the government), where offers of hospitality are generally more limited and conditional. Through the illustration of various acts of hospitality in particular, Scott's novels voice their serious concern over the underprivileged, subdued, or alienated identities in history, and thus render Scott in this dimension a postcolonial novelist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-26
Number of pages18
JournalScottish Literary Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019


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