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Homecoming and Liminality in Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering

Abstract : In 2009 Scotland celebrated its first Homecoming year which aimed to encourage the international Scottish Diaspora to return home. During this event emblematic Scottish writers have been commemorated, like Robert Burns or Walter Scott who made the question of exile and return the central topic of his writings, with the long narrative poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), or the novels Redgauntlet (1824), St Ronan’s Well (1824), and above all Guy Mannering (1815) which focuses on the movement homeward. The fiction stages three different types of homecoming, from the simplest and the most straightforward, the return of a Scottish heir after his early abduction away to Holland, to the most problematic, the return of foreigners, i.e. a homeless English tourist Guy Mannering (“a stranger in the [Scottish] land” [II, 9: 162]), and his nomadic and traditionally homeless counterpart, the wandering gypsy Meg Merrilies. On their return home the exiles are constlantly out of place and out of time, as they live in a liminal space (in-between space) at the periphery of a country and at the margin of society, and in a liminal time (in-between time) between chronological linearity and cyclical circularity. And yet, returning home does not necessarily lead to homecoming. These three parallel returns are questioned for they threaten the centripetal movement triggered off by the motion homeward; the home of their choice is indeed located on the Borders, at the edge of Scotland. They are also mutually exclusive as these homecomers all try and return to the same home, the Ellangowan property. Homecoming can only take place within the literary home created by the author.
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Céline Sabiron. Homecoming and Liminality in Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering. Études écossaises, 2010, 13, pp.103 - 117. ⟨10.4000/etudesecossaises.224⟩. ⟨hal-02936284⟩



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