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Sir Walter Scott, Jews and Saracens, and Other Sundry Subjects

by Ibn Warraq (May 2009)

PART ONE
 
Edward Said, the late Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University, has, in his influential Orientalism, a characteristically shallow, sneering aside on Sir Walter Scott, and, in particular, on his novel, The Talisman:
 
“In Scott’s novel The Talisman (1825), Sir Kenneth (of the Crouching Leopard) battles a single Saracen to a standoff somewhere in the Palestinian desert; as the Crusader and his opponent, who is Saladin in disguise, later engage in conversation, the Christian discovers his Muslim antagonist to be not so bad a fellow after all. Yet he remarks:
               
 ‘I well thought…that your blinded race had their descent
                 from the foul fiend, without whose aid you would never
                 have been able to maintain this blessed land of Palestine
                 against so many valiant soldiers of God. I speak not thus
                 of thee in particular, Saracen, but generally of thy people
                 and religion. Strange is it to me, however, not that you
                 should have the descent from the Evil One, but that you
                 should boast of it.’   more>>>