Quentin Durward eBook: Page2

Walter Scott (2005)

  Quentin Durward was published in June, 1823, and was Scott's firstventure on foreign ground. While well received at home, the sensationit created in Paris was comparable to that caused by the appearance ofWaverley in Edinburgh and Ivanhoe in London. In Germany also, where theauthor was already popular, the new novel had a specially enthusiasticwelcome. The scene of the romance was partly suggested by a journalkept by Sir Walter's dear friend, Mr. James Skene of Rubislaw, duringa French tour, the diary being illustrated by a vast number of cleverdrawings. The author, in telling this tale laid in unfamiliar scenes,encountered difficulties of a kind quite new to him, as it necessitatedmuch study of maps, gazetteers, and books of travel. For the history,he naturally found above all else the Memoirs of Philip de Comines "thevery key of the period," though it need not be said that the lesserchroniclers received due attention. It is interesting to note that inwriting to his friend, Daniel Terry, the actor and manager, Scott says,"I have no idea my present labours will be dramatic in situation; as tocharacter, that of Louis XI, the sagacious, perfidious, superstitious,jocular, politic tyrant, would be, for a historical chronicle containinghis life and death, one of the most powerful ever brought on the stage."So thought the poet, Casimir Delavigne--writing when Scott's influencewas marked upon French literature--whose powerful drama, Louis XI, wasa great Parisian success. Later Charles Kean and Henry Irving made anEnglish version of it well known in England and America.