Tips and Programs
Twenty Scottish Tales and Legends
This is a delightful collection of tales culled from the works of
three authors Elizabeth W. Grierson, W.J. Glover, and Sir Walter
Scott (primarily Scott. His stories take up half the collection.)
Along with a variety of authors comes a variety of tales: fairy tales,
history, and legends.
Readers may find many of the fairy tales familiar, being Scottish
versions of well-known Irish tales. The Scottish versions compare
favourably with their better-known cousins, being every bit as rich
and lively, and in at least one case far surpassing the Irish version.
"The Good Housewife and the Little People" is a variant
of "The Horned Women," a strange little story which has
never made much sense to me. The Scottish version supplies the missing
explanations for the events and actions which remain inexplicable
in the Irish.
The historical stories tell of the events and heroes of Scotlands
struggle with England. The tales relate deeds of courage and wit,
particularly the deeds of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Although
I enjoyed the individual tales, I was rather annoyed by the way these
stories were all jumbled together at random. Why not present them
in proper order? And for heaven sake, why put some of
them in backwards? The story of Robert the Bruces final victory
over the English is followed by stories of his earlier defeats and
English pursuit. The stories themselves entertain, thrill, and inform,
so why detract from them with a confusing order?
I must also confess to being puzzled by "The Story of Macbeth,"
basically just a plot summary of Shakespeares famous play, with
a couple of minor changes thrown in (to disguise this fact?) Was this
the best Scott could do?
But this is quibbling. The stories delight. The wonderful paintings
by Allan Stewart bring extra life and detail to the tales, bringing
out the Scottish-ness of them. I loved the fact that in the illustration
for "The Battle of the Birds," we do not see a standard-issue,
fairy tale prince, but a Scottish warrior, complete with mail shirt,
helmet, and big, drooping mustache. I only wish the paintings could
have been printed in colour (like on the dust jacket) rather than
in black and white.
All in all, these Scottish Tales and Legends will make a fine addition to your collection.
published in WIP Summer 1999
Why I Hate Lady Ragnell Alan Irvine's article and the rebuttal it engendered.