Ivanhoe Paperback – 26 Jul 2007
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|Paperback, 26 Jul 2007||
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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 an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
Hailed by Victor Hugo as 'the real epic of our age, ' "Ivanhoe was an immensely popular bestseller when first published in 1819. The book inspired literary imitations as well as paintings, dramatizations, and even operas. Now Sir Walter Scott's sweeping romance of medieval England has prompted a lavish new television production.
In the twelfth century, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe returns home to England from the Third Crusade to claim his inheritance and the love of the lady Rowena. The heroic adventures of this noble Saxon knight involve him in the struggle between Richard the Lion-Hearted and his malignant brother John: a conflict that brings Ivanhoe into alliance with the mysterious outlaw Robin Hood and his legendary fight for the forces of good.
'Scott's characters, like Shakespeare's and Jane Austen's, have the seed of life in them, ' observed Virginia Woolf. 'The emotions in which Scott excels are not those of human beings pitted against other human beings, but of man pitted against Nature, of man in relation to fate. His romance is the romance of hunted men hiding in woods at night; of brigs standing out to sea; of waves breaking in the moonlight; of solitary sands and distant horsemen; of violence and suspense.' For Henry James, 'Scott was a born storyteller. . . . Since Shakespeare, no writer has created so immense a gallery of portraits.' --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
The story beautifully conveys the tensions, hatreds, moods and emotions of those violent times in 12th century England when Prince John was regent and Richard the Lionheart was a prisoner. The arrogant Norman overlords with their different language still ruled over the Saxon people and enforced their laws on them.
A Saxon hero is needed and so enters Sir Wilfred Ivanhoe. Disinherited by his father for falling in love with Lady Rowena, his father's ward, he had travelled to the Holy Land on crusade and became a firm favourite of King Richard. In disguise,he comes to the aid of Isaac of York, a Jew and moneylender, one of a race despised by the Christian world in that era.
Ivanhoe is really a secondary character in this story
The hero of the story, Ivanhoe, is a young knight recently returned from the Crusades where he has been fighting alongside King Richard. He has been banished from his family for courting the attention of his father's ward, the beautiful Rowena. Ivanhoe makes his return at a jousting tournament where he is badly wounded. Other notable characters are a Jew, Isaac of York, and his lovely daughter, Rebecca. There follows all sorts of adventures including kidnappings, a castle siege and the trial of Rebecca for witchcraft. There are some wonderful characters too, notably swineherd Gurth and jester Wamba who show bravery and loyalty beyond the call of duty. There is a hint of a love story too. Whilst Ivanhoe hopes to marry Rowena, there is a certain chemistry between himself and Rebecca too. But this isn't really a love story and any romance is implicit in Ivanhoe's actions rather than between the characters.
This book is full of adventure and humour and it is unusual to see a medieval setting in 19th century literature. A couple of aspects make it not quite a 5 star read, most notably the unlikely resurrection from the dead of a minor character - whilst explained, I did have to suspend belief. Also, I felt that Ivanhoe himself was not fully described - he spends much of the novel injured on the sidelines and, as a result, his character was one-dimensional and I would have like to have seen much more of him.
I highly recommend this book though for sheer adventure and entertainment and urge readers not to be afraid to give it a go.
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