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Ivanhoe (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Sir Walter Scott
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 1995 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by David Blair, University of Kent at Canterbury.

Set in the reign of Richard I, Coeur de Lion, Ivanhoe is packed with memorable incidents - sieges, ambushes and combats - and equally memorable characters: Cedric of Rotherwood, the die-hard Saxon; his ward Rowena; the fierce Templar knight, Sir Brian de Bois-Gilbert; the Jew, Isaac of York, and his beautiful, spirited daughter Rebecca; Wamba and Gurth, jester and swineherd respectively.

Scott explores the conflicts between the Crown and the powerful Barons, between the Norman overlords and the conquered Saxons, and between Richard and his scheming brother, Prince John. At the same time he brings into the novel the legendary Robin Hood and his band, and creates a brilliant, colourful account of the age of chivalry with all its elaborate rituals and costumes and its values of honour and personal glory.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (1 Feb 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262029
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.6 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Ivanhoe was the first of Scott's novels to be located wholly in England, and the first to take place in the middle ages. But it is far from being the fantastic, medievalist romance associated (in the critical imagination) with a visionary Britain that never was. This is a serious novel, the first in English to deal carefully with race. And at the same time, it is an incredibly exciting read for contemporary readers. Ivanhoe was the first of Scott's novels to be located wholly in England, and the first to take place in the middle ages. But it is far from being the fantastic, medievalist romance associated (in the critical imagination) with a visionary Britain that never was. This is a serious novel, the first in English to deal carefully with race. And at the same time, it is an incredibly exciting read for contemporary readers. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

'The love of battle is the food upon which we live – the dust of the melee is the breath of our nostrils! we live not – we wish not to live – longer than while we are victorious and renowned. Such…are the laws of chivalry to which we are sworn, and to which we offer all that we hold dear.'

Set in the twelfth century, during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, 'Ivanhoe' tells of the love of Wilfred of Ivanhoe for the Lady Rowena, his father Cedric's ward. Cedric, who is dedicated to the liberation of the Saxon people from Norman oppression and to the revival of the Saxon royal line, intends Rowena – a descendant of King Alfred – for the oafish Athelstane, and he banishes his son. Ivanhoe joins King Richard on his crusade in the Holy Land, and eventually the two men return secretly to England – Ivanhoe to regain his inheritance and the land of Rowena, Richard to secure his kingdom from his scheming brother John who has ruled in Richard's absence.

With a gallery of memorable characters, high and low, 'Ivanhoe' is a powerful and exciting evocation of a medieval world of jousting, baronial rivalry, siege warfare and trial by combat, and makes no attempt to gloss over the violence and brutality that lay behind the chivalric ideals.

--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Joust In Time! 1 Aug 2011

Ivanhoe (1819) is a heavyweight among `the classics'. It tells the story of an England disunited during the reign of King Richard I (1189-1199). The schism is not only between the feuding Plantagenet brothers, John and Richard, but also between Saxon and Norman. There is further religious tension between Christian and Jew. Thus, Scott unveils a backdrop of disarray and uncertainty for his unfolding narrative. It is the Norman vs. Saxon tension which is perhaps most interesting, as the French rulers are still viewed as occupying invaders by the `true' Saxon Englishmen, a perspective captured most forcibly in the proud form of Cedric, Ivanhoe's father.

On one level, `Ivanhoe' is the archetypal medieval romp. All of the key ingredients for a Middle Ages epic are here: feuding families, knights, jousting, sword-fights, castles, sieges, daring escapes, damsels in distress, thrown gauntlets, to name but a few. However, `Ivanhoe' is far more than a period drama tick list. As well as action, it offers complex characterisation and plenty of food for thought about what was paradoxically a `more civilised' yet (in many ways) truly barbaric era. As well as the big issues, Scott offers some clever stylistic touches. For example, a series of chapters which tell the parallel events of a number of characters separately held in captivity all end with the same bugle call, bringing us back to same moment in time.

However, the ambition of `Ivanhoe' is arguably also a source of its limitations in truly engaging the reader. Although the novel's title is simply one man's name, `Ivanhoe' provides three distinct heroes, with Richard The Lionheart and Locksley* (ie. Robin Hood) making up the numbers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of humour, a joy for language lovers 5 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I particularly like the detailed descriptions of the characters, the use of ancient language - e.g. "Thou shalt have" - and the humour the book is full of. Very funny is the dialogue between Wamba and Gurth, when they talk about the words "swine" and "pork." "Why, how call you the those grunting brutes running about on their four legs?" (Swine, in Saxon) "... but how call you the sow when she is flayed, and drawn, and quartered, and hung up by the heels, like a traitor?" (Pork, in Norman-French). "And so, when the brute lives, and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her Saxon name; but becomes a Norman, and is called pork, when she is carried to the Castle-hall to feast among the nobles."
I recommend this book, together with Robin Hood, both edited by Wordsworth.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pre-cinematic action-adventure classic 25 Mar 2010
Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe opens in an idyllic England of old, when towns might still be called pleasant, forests were still extensive, and the land was peopled with dashing knights and amiable yeoman. King Richard (the Lionheart) is off fighting the crusades, and Prince John is taking advantage of his brother's absence to plot his own way to the throne.

An unknown palmer leads a band of Normans out of a stormy night and into the home of a Saxon nobleman, Cedric, and aids the early morning escape of unfortunate Jew, Isaac of York. Later a disinherited knight will prevail at a jousting tournament, and choose the beautiful Lady Rowena to be the tournament's Queen of Love and Beauty; his life will be saved during a melee by the mysterious knight clad in black: the Black Sluggard. The bewitching Jewess Rebecca, the archer Locksley, a fool, a swineherd, and a handful of proud Norman nobles make up a cast of memorable, and socially diverse characters that inhabit this romanticised land in the 12th Century.

A work of roughly "historical" fiction it may be, but Scott rarely lets a schoolmasterly lecture get in the way of a good story. Valour and chivalry are satiated as bouts of jousting, feasting, kidnap, rescue and sieges maintain pace and action, whilst elements of disguise and secrecy offer intrigue. Meanwhile, Rebecca champions female strength and dignity in her refusal of the advances of Brian de Bois-Gilbert, even as her fate hangs in the balance. Sure, there are places where the tale slows, and the characters are revealed more fully, usually in the course of grand conversations, but the reader will soon be rewarded for any patience these few chapters might humbly request.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The book is cool and the delivery was o 19 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hi, Sorry for my earlier communique. I didn't realize that this had arrived due to you having spelt my name wrong (CAMBULL instead of Campbell Hart). I thought somebody had signed in my stead as happened once some years back. My apologies. The book is cool and the delivery was o.k. apart from the mis-spelling of my name in your subsequent message.
Many Thanks.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Review 10 July 2014
By dg
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought book after listening to part of it on radio and found it thrilling listening however I found book quite hard going that isn't a criticism of book as it's in style of time (probably)however I like to read a book quite quickly and I struggled and therefore the three stars are my personal opinion on the positive side however the service from seller good
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5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make them like this any more 2 July 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
They don't make them like this any more! In a busy world people don't find much time for lengthy novels by sir walter Scott, which is a pity but a fact. However, Ivanhoe is a good yarn, full of exciting events, and this radical abridgement serves its purpose well. It also manages to convey the emotional import of Ivanhoe rather well. There is more emotional complexity here than you might expect. I would love it if someone would do abridgements of all the waverley novels, as they have of many of trollopes novels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it from start to finish
Absolute classic. Loved it from start to finish. Filled with interesting characters, plots and action scenes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Philip
2.0 out of 5 stars Classic?
I brought this book after years of hearing how great it is.
I agree that it is a classic, but the classics are not always the best. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Medieval Babe
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value for a classic nove;
This is an excellent buy with comprehensive end notes to explain the old fashioned text. Pleased with this purchase Good value foe money,
Published 8 months ago by Gillian Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars book
It is a book it is the book, wow I was gobsmacked, thought I'd ordered a kitchen sink! two more words
Published 13 months ago by tom1234
4.0 out of 5 stars Ivan by Sir Walter Scott
I bought this book as a present, the quality is very good and the price excellent, I would definately recommend it.
Published 21 months ago by juniet
5.0 out of 5 stars An Agreeable Surprise
All the Scott novels that I have read over the years have been set in Scotland and I approached "Ivanhoe" almost out of a sense of duty. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Bookbuyer
4.0 out of 5 stars In days of olde when men appeared to be....
...in the main, sexist and racial and religious bigots, women and anyone not of the Christian faith had a pretty raw deal! Read more
Published 23 months ago by still searching
5.0 out of 5 stars Walter Scott's Ivanhoe
Scott's first departure from his scottish themes delves into medieval England and in the process introduced Robin of Loxley (Robin Hood)to a wider public. Read more
Published on 5 May 2010 by C. Fedorowicz
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