Edited by Professor Graham Tulloch
IVANHOE (1819) was the first of Scott's novels to adopt a purely English subject and was also his first attempt to combine history and romance, which later influenced Victorian medievalism.
Set at the time of the Norman Conquest, Ivanhoe returns from the Crusades to claim his inheritance and the love of Rowena and becomes involved in the struggle between Richard Coeur de Lion and his Norman brother John. The gripping narrative is structured by a series of conflicts: Saxon versus Norman, Christian versus Jew, men versus women, played out against Scott's unflinching moral realism.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 544 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 30/03/2000
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780140436587
Showing 1 - 5 of 10 reviews.
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Review by sisterbooks
An epic tale not for the faint of heart. A very good soap opera told in Medieval times. Ivanhoe is a hero you love to hate, but the book is redeemed by an exciting love triangle created by the real heroine of the story, Rebecca.
Review by thorold
Review by LisaMaria_C
There was a time when Walter Scott was seen as <i>the</i> great novelist of his age--far superior to Jane Austen. Donizetti used one of Scott's novels for the basis of <i>Lucia de Lammermoor.</i> Mark Twain decried Scott's influence on Southern American culture with his "sham chivalries" Twain blamed for the American Civil War. Well, these days while Austen is triumphant, hardly anyone reads Scott anymore. <i>Ivanhoe</i> is the novel you'd most likely still find on shelves, its readership possibly kept alive by the film adaptations. While I wouldn't reverse the judgement of history--Austen is one of my favorite authors and in comparison Scott feels shallow--I did find this great fun when I discovered this in my teens. The history part of the historical fiction? Well, there are lots of ahistorical and anachronistic touches. By the time of King Richard I, I doubt the Anglo Saxons still kept a distinctive culture or dreamed of ever ousting the Normans, or even thought of the Plantagenets as a foreign dynasty. (Even if Richard the Lionheart didn't speak English or spend much of his reign in England.) And Robin Hood is legend, not history. I'd also say that the main characters we're supposed to be most enamored with--Ivanhoe and Rowena--seem rather bland to me. But ah, then there's Rebecca! Although one could see some anti-Semitic stereotypes in her father Isaac, if for nothing else, Scott should be given credit for creating such a strong, appealing Jewish heroine at a time when Anti-semitism was still rampant in English fiction. And I love the villain, Brian Bois-Guilbert, who isn't painted completely black but has, shall we say, some interesting qualities. And well, it's simply fun to read this--not in my opinion dry at all. It's a fun romp through history--as long as you don't ask it to be too historical.
Review by MarysGirl
I couldn't remember if I had read this years ago or was remembering the movie. In any case, this was a fun read. The story is exciting with many of our favorite folk heroes - King Richard the Lion-Hearted, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck - shown in their most favorable light. The titular character actually spends a lot of the book flat on his back. What I enjoyed most about the book is the language and style. This first came out in 1820 and the prose style is delightfully archaic. Scott shows deep insight into human psyche, sharply drawing his characters, poking fun at hypocrisy and pomposity, and sympathetically portraying the humanity of the less fortunate.
Review by bhenry11
My version of this book was abridged for a middle-school audience, and published in 1936 as part of the Heath Golden Key Series. That said, it was still 464 pages long and written in early 19th-century English purporting to be Middle English. What that means is that it sometimes takes Scott three paragraphs or longer to have a character say "No thank you, I'm not hungry." Ivanhoe is a stupendous work of historical fiction, mixing the best romantic chivalrous pursuits of knights, fair maidens, and swashbuckling peasants and outlaws with double-crosses and villainy straight out of an Errol Flynn movie (until you realize that Hollywood in all likelihood stole their greatest plot devices from Scott and the rest of the canon). It's a love story full of virtue, love, friendship, trust in combat, ambition, and, most unsettling, anti-semitism. In fact, it was very hard for me to get past the rampant anti-semitism in the writing and dialogue, even between the good guys (Richard the Lion-hearted, Robin Hood, and Ivanhoe).The story gets a little weak towards the conclusion — the fate of Athelstane comes to mind, as does the unsatisfying end to Brian de Bois-Guilbert, the Knight Templar — but that's okay. It's a page-turner of a classic, full of funny-named helpers (Gurth, Wamba), knights in disguise, and virtuous women.Recommended.
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