The Edification of Sir Walter Scott’s Saladin in The Talisman
The Talisman, though one of Sir Walter Scott’s lesser known works, garnered attention by its criticism in Edward Said’s Orientalism. This essay looks at how premature that criticism is by examining Scott’s sympathetic portrayal of Saladin in the novel. Indeed, one might attribute a case of “hero worship” to Scott, seeing how unashamedly effusive his admiration of the Sultan is in the text. The essay also argues that while Scott, as a Romantic era novelist and poet, might have been a bit effusive in his praise of Saladin, the fictional Sultan in The Talisman is not far removed from the historical ruler in terms of character. Indeed Scott’s version of Saladin has dominated Western media even today. The author does make some minor lapses when it comes to a few details. But this essay uncovers the depth of his contextual knowledge and how intelligently he applies it. Furthermore, Scott’s portrayal of the Crusaders in the text is often far more accurate than the works of most of his contemporaries and even some authors today. Nevertheless, The Talisman should not be necessarily read as an East versus West text or even as a pro-Eastern novel but as the light adventure novel intended by its author. Key words: Walter Scott; Saladin; Talisman; Crusaders; Orientalism
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