In honour of the 250th anniversary of his birth, the University of Aberdeen’s Museums & Special Collections have collaborated with the Walter Scott Research Centre on Walter Scott & Song: Retuning the Harp of the North. Exploring ballads, opera, and theatrical and popular songs, this online exhibition showcases the University of Aberdeen’s Walter Scott collections alongside musical recordings. As a best-selling author, Walter Scott introduced Scottish traditions to audiences across the world. His writings and song collections inspired both his readers in the 1800s, and future generations of musicians.
Walter Scott (1771-1832) trained as a lawyer and practised in Edinburgh, but his true calling was for storytelling: he was deeply passionate about Scotland’s history and culture, and committed himself to showcasing and creating epic stories such as the Waverley novels and Rob Roy.
Like many others in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Scott had a deep interest in songs and stories that had been passed down by ordinary people over generations. As a young man, he gathered together ballads from the Scottish Borders, and published them in a book called Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. ‘Battle of Otterbourne’ tells the story of a 1388 battle between a Scottish and an English family. Heavily influenced by the European romantic movement, he would go on to spark the imagination and creativity of generations of readers and writers.
Taking as our inspiration the folklore, myths and legends of Scotland and Europe, library staff have collated the following materials available both in the academic collection and from Aberdeen City Libraries. The Ground Floor of the Library hosts the Old Aberdeen branch of Aberdeen City Libraries, and more information can be found here.
Coming to the end of this year, we are sure many of you have plans for a relaxing break. These past twelve months may also have left you in a reflective and inquiring mood. Whether you want to escape into a fictional world; or continue exploring ideas from your studies, we hope that this blog post will give you some inspiration.
Philosophy deals with the largest, most complex questions and problems facing humanity. Movies, television and culture explore stories based on these questions and give an opportunity for scholars to debate and discuss what the stories mean. They can also give rise to creative and exciting new worlds. Here at the library, several e-books in our collections have explored various queries and theories with reference to some of our greatest literary works:
Lord of the Rings and Philosophy by Gregory Bassham and Eric Bronson: A fantastic primer on Tolkien’s famous trilogy, bringing together international academics to debate whether or not superhuman power can be used for good, or do humans always become addicted and corrupt?
How to Live Forever: Science Fiction and Philosophyby Stephen Clarke broadens the questions that science fiction can explore. Sections here discuss technology and its ability to influence and assist humanity; and the world of medicine and its attendant concerns with immortality.
A wealth of relevant fictional tales are available online from Aberdeen City Libraries using the ‘Borrow Box’ service. More information can be found here.Some examples of the items available include:
The Last Human by Lee Bacon: A story set in a dystopian world where humanity is (supposedly) extinct and Earth is run by machines. Everything seems perfect and in order without war, pollution, crime or poverty. What happens then, when a robot meets a 12-year old? Join XR-935 on this extremely unlikely friendship, and follow their poignant, funny adventure together as they work out what it really means to be human.
The Ghost Network: Activate by I.I Davidson: John, Slack, Akone and Salome are all passionate about computer coding, gaming and hacking; and are thrilled to be at ‘Wolf’s Den’, a specialist academy, with other technologically adept souls from around the world. Then they discover Project 31, a secret study run by the school’s leaders using the pupils themselves as guinea pigs, and two shocking facts: they are all legally dead, and John’s scientist father planted A.I inside him before mysteriously vanishing. In order to find answers and escape their enemies, the four of them must flee across the tundra.
Several of the themes here also work well in festive tales, where characters can build new lives and find new strengths. The following item is also available electronically from City Libraries:
The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher: A Victorian mystery where orphaned Seren has to work out what a mysterious package contains, with the help of the strange ‘Christmas Crow’, a supernatural being who will lead her to ‘Tom’. Who is he? Can Seren trust him? And why must she find him before the owner of the parcel finds her? A fascinating adventure story exploring themes of family and belonging.
Another philosophical book that you can findon Primo is inspired by Tolkien’s contemporary and friend C. S Lewis:
It could be paired with a number of modern day adventure stories that explore growing up, and the questions that come with facing difficult experiences and decisions. Examples of stories in this vein available from Aberdeen City libraries include:
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman: Sally Lockhart must track down her father’s killer. She’s perfectly equipped to do it, having had an unconventional upbringing for a Victorian lady: being a brilliant accountant who can ride like a Cossack, shoot like a demon and speak fluent Hindustani. Following the trail of the titular jewel, the first in this series is a masterful adventure story that completely transports you to historic London, India and China.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: This series follows the Baudelaire children as they navigate the world of their eccentric extended family, outwitting and defeating their malevolent Uncle Olaf at every turn. Witty, absurd and extremely memorable. (Please note that the first of this series is available in audiobook format here, and you must be logged into the City Libraries online catalogue for this link to work. More information on how to join them can be found later in this post.)
The Storm Leopards by Holly Webb: A magical tale of family bonds and discovering new passions. When Isabelle and her family visit their local zoo, she comes across a beautiful snow leopard, and is entranced. Determined to help them, she soon finds out about conservation efforts in Mongolia centred on a mother leopard and her cubs.
Before you go, here are a further few suggestions for festive reading:
The Lost Casebooks of Sherlock Holmes by Donald Thomas: The game is afoot! Join Holmes and Watson for sixteen tales of intellectual derring-do that see them contend with ‘supernatural curses’, find lost treasures, assist Winston Churchill at Sydney Street and foil a German invasion.
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: If Thomas has whetted your appetite Aberdeen City Libraries have the original mysteries available in print and online, including audiobooks read by Stephen Fry.
Access to e-resources
To find out more about the City Libraries, their collections and services, please do visit their website here. Membership of Aberdeen City Libraries is available to people who work, live or study in Aberdeen City or Shire. If you are not already a member, you can join online now and start using the online services immediately. Sign up for free here.
To access our e-books remember to sign in to Primo; then in the ‘View Online’ section in Primo click on the name of the provider (e.g. Ebook Central) to link to the full-text of an e-book. If the e-book provider presents you with a Shibboleth authentication screen, enter your University username and password again.