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Lost in the BackwoodsScots and the North American Wilderness$
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Jenni Calder

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748647392

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748647392.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

Scotland’s Hard Country

Scotland’s Hard Country

(p.7) 1 Scotland’s Hard Country
Lost in the Backwoods

Jenni Calder

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses the early depiction of parts of Scotland as barbaric obstacles to civilisation and stable government, and the changes in perception that came in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as Scotland’s wilderness became more accessible to travellers. These later responses were often ambivalent - Thomas Pennant and others were impressed by the landscape’s grandeur but appalled by its barrenness and the poverty of its inhabitants. The Enlightenment encouraged identification of potential for development while Ossian and Walter Scott nourished an appreciation of the picturesque, hugely boosted by Queen Victoria’s romantic enthusiasm for Highland landscapes. Similar contradictions underlie encounters with North America, and contemporary analogies between the Gaels and American natives were not uncommon. Scotland’s wilderness was seen as a training ground for North America, producing tough and resourceful pioneer material, but progress required that both the Highlands and the North American wilderness, along with their inhabitants, be tamed.

Keywords:   Scotland’s wilderness, Scottish Highlands, Enlightenment, picturesque, romanticism, pioneers, Ossian, Walter Scott

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