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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: 28 September 2021

Regions of Adventure

Regions of Adventure

(p.173) 7 Regions of Adventure
Lost in the Backwoods

Jenni Calder

Edinburgh University Press

Wilderness and the moving frontier constituted an environment of heroics, anarchy and lawlessness, and these in turn became the ingredients for many different kinds of adventure narratives. Among writers of Scottish origin, the interpretation of wilderness varied greatly, with Washington Irving and R M Ballantine emphasising the evolution of frontier heroes, the fostering of independence and resourcefulness and the rewards of courage. Others were more negative, dwelling on the fear of the unknown, the physical threat, and sinister potential of the wild to foster cruelty, lawlessness and greed. R L Stevenson’s Master of Ballantrae, John Buchan’s Sick Heart River, Steph Penney’s The Tenderness of Wolves and the Scottish contribution to the Western genre are examined. The chapter discusses the way the wild’s intrinsic hostility to humanity generates adventure and offers an environment of liberation, challenge and spiritual enlightenment as well as of threat, drudgery and failure, ambivalence reiterated in images that, through film and fiction, have deeply affected the popular imagination.

Keywords:   Washington Irving, R M Ballantyne, R L Stevenson, John Buchan, Steph Penney, Westerns, frontier heroes

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