scott v. longfellow


It is of some consequence, then, to discover that not everything Scott wrote were his own words, even though that is how they have always appeared in print. One of the passages famously noted for being an example of Scott’s innate facility with language and metaphor—and therefore “proof” of his superiority as a writer and noble soul—was in fact written by a far more accomplished wordsmith: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. So how can it be that no one—not even Scott’s lauded editor, Leonard Huxley, or any of the scholars who have pored over Scott’s words in a hundred years—have noticed this glaring misappropriation? The fact that Scott was quoting Longfellow in the first place provides us with an insight into his literary life that is just as revealing as simply noting that it was overlooked. The passage that Scott quoted is itself illuminating.

more from Micki Myers at Paris Review here.