Ivanhoe (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Ivanhoe (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082468
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 40,980
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.26(h) x 1.43(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Gillen D’Arcy Wood’s Introduction to Ivanhoe

From the beginning, Ivanhoe was distinguished by its huge readership and cult appeal. It sold 10,000 copies in its first two weeks, an unheard-of rate in 1819. That same year, a stage version opened in New York, and later Rossini composed Ivanhoe, the opera. Walter Scott had begun his literary career two decades earlier as a collector of Scottish ballads. He then turned his hand to poetry, specializing in grand romantic vistas and heroic themes from Scottish history. “The Lady of the Lake” (1810) made his name and fortune (which he later lost). But then along came Lord Byron. Almost overnight, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage made Scott’s narrative poetry seem provincial and old hat. Making a virtue of necessity, Scott turned to fiction, with spectacular results. Waverley (1814), which looked back to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Scots rebellion of 1745, was something altogether new to the British reader: the recreation of an entire historical canvas, populated by romantic but credible characters, acting out Britain’s painful emergence from its tribal past into modernity and nationhood. Variations on these themes inspired a further sequence of highly successful “Scottish” novels until in 1819, the ever-restless Scott felt the Caledonian well had run dry, and he ventured a new tale removed in both time and place: the England of the Middle Ages. The result was a book that can lay claim to being the most widely read novel of the nineteenth century, and among the most popular of all time.

Ivanhoe maintains a strong readership today, when the rest of Scott’s extraordinary literary output has sunk into obscurity, but it has never been a great critical success. The Scott purists wish he had never traveled south to England at all, and his compatriot David Daiches typifies the twentieth-century scholarly opinion of the novel: “Ivanhoe, though it has qualities of its own, is much more superficial than any of the Scottish novels, and is written throughout on a much lower plane. Scott did not, in fact, know the Middle Ages well and he had little understanding of its social or religious life” (“Scott’s Achievement as a Novelist”, p. 46; see “For Further Reading”). Since the 1980s, critics have turned back to Ivanhoe as an important thesis on British nationalism, and for its racial and sexual themes, but whatever the vicissitudes of its reputation among literary scholars, the novel always has enjoyed a cultural afterlife that much exceeded its scope and pretensions as literature. Ivanhoe single-handedly revived the age of chivalry in the Western popular imagination, and produced a cult of medieval rites and manners that persists into our own age, with its “Dungeons and Dragons” and Lord of the Rings. As for its cultural politics, the impact of Ivanhoe has been felt most deeply and controversially not in Britain, but in the United States.

“I lie here dying, slowly dying, under the blight of Sir Walter,” wrote Mark Twain to a friend in 1903 (Letters, p. 738). Scott loomed large for Twain the writer, who lamented the impact of his “wordy, windy, flowery ‘eloquence’” on American literature. But far more serious for Twain was the enduring cultural impression made by Scott’s Ivanhoe on the American South. The antebellum South was an essentially feudal system of rank and caste, and its white ruling class found in Scott’s romantic tale of chivalrous knights, powerful land-owning barons, and loyal serfs a glorious mirror image of itself. For Twain, whatever impetus toward modernization had existed toward “liberty, humanity, and progress” in the South was effectively smothered by the popularity of Scott, whose novels “set the world in love with dreams and phantoms; with decayed and swinish forms of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the sillinesses and emptinesses, sham grandeurs, sham gauds, and sham chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society.” The Scott “disease,” he went so far as to say, had caused the Civil War (Mississippi Writings, pp. 500–501). Ivanhoe became, arguably, even more necessary to the South after that war was lost. Scott’s title character spends much of the novel in disguise, and achieves his greatest triumph in the character of “The Disinherited Knight.” He is named for his estate—he is Wilfred of Ivanhoe—but does not or cannot claim it. Ivanhoe the place is never visited and barely mentioned, as if forgotten. The novel’s title thus points to a glaring absence in the world of the novel, both spiritual and material. England has been conquered, and the spoils have gone to the victorious Normans. As his chivalric pseudonym suggests, Ivanhoe the man is a complex figure representing both inherited nobility and loss, a romantic composite uniquely designed to appeal to the defeated Confederate sensibility.

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Ivanhoe 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 322 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Ivanhoe' remains as much of a pleasure to read, this time with my grand-daughter, as it was when I first read it nearly fifty years ago. And the editor has provided an introduction which offers some interesting insights into Scott and his book. Beware the annotations, however, for there Professor Wood reveals himself hopelessly out of his depth. The notes suffer from both political correctness, e.g., his implied claims that the crusaders had no reason to wage war war against Muslims, and inexcusable ignorance, e.g., his statement that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were brothers and that Iconium was the the medieval--it was the ancient--name of modern Konya.
rp-in-texas More than 1 year ago
I am new to E-Books I tried loading this book. When it appeared, it was in French. Nowhere does it say the book would be in French. What a BIG disappointment.
Pedge More than 1 year ago
This is an abridged version about half the length of the original. Intended for a young audience. I deleted after downloading as it did not meet my needs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite novels, but the eBook kept freezing on my Nook. Eventually I deleted from my library without being able to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was apprehensive about reading _Ivanhoe_, but I took it under the recommendation of a very well-respected professor. Between its covers, I have found a new favorite novel! I was completely captivated by the story itself, and the characters were so well-crafted that at times I forgot that I was reading. If you are looking for an enjoyable read, full of chivalry, adventure, and bravery 'from both men AND women', look no further than _Ivanhoe_.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ivanhoe was much better than I thought it would be. I have a passion for the medieval times so this book was perfect. Its filled with adventure, romance, and chivalry. The characters are wonderful! This book was amazing!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jacob Turner Top 5 Favorite Book. I recommend this book for the following reasons. Ivanhoe was a book in which I had great ease and comfort in reading. I was captured in this book, as the tension was building between the Saxons and the Normans. The book presented a nail biting and edgy experience as you turned page to page, with hints of romance sprinkled throughout.   The turmoil and mischievous action keeps you wanting to read. You quickly find yourself flipping pages as if you are watching a movie.   The setting of Ivanhoe is medieval England, in the late twelfth century. The historical environment of which the novel takes place is one that changes with quickness.  Saxon England has been taken by Norman French for over a century, but the invasion of England’s best homes and land is still going forward as fast as ever. This setting has proven to create great uncertainty in leaving you wondering what next and contemplating upcoming confrontations or situations.  The main characters are Cedric, Ivanhoe, a.k.a. Wilfred, Athelstane, Rowena, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Front-de-Boeuf, Richard Plantagenet, John Plantagenet, Waldemar Fitzurse, Isaac, Rebecca, and Maurice De Bracy. This novel would be on my must read list for anyone who enjoys medieval struggle and strife.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its in French!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your looking for a book that has action this is it if your looking for a book that has drama step aside days of our lives if you want adventure its got that as well indiana jones wishes he had this much adventure. This book takes all the action and adveture and puts it on the midevil level it awesome. And in this story you get the real story of robin hood well a good amount anyway. This is a must read it should be your library if you got one going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found iy a little confising, but something that i would read again
Roger Beede More than 1 year ago
I was captivated by this book's storyline as well as the quaint language. I had only seen the movie before and the book is ever so much better!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ivanhoe is not written in 'Old English'. It is modern English, written in the 19th century, so some of the prose may seem antiquated to a modern reader. This is an example of Old English, from Beowulf: 'Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum' . This is Middle English, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: 'Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote/The droghte of March hath perced to the roote'. Spenser, Shakespeare, and definitely Scott all wrote in Modern English--which has been used since the English Renaissance in the 15th century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The old English prose of this book is somewhat difficult to read at first & the initial prospect of reading several hundred pages of this seems somewhat akin to watching paint dry. But once you get used to this type of writing, the book is exciting, funny & intriguing. For lovers of historical fiction, this is one of the best. From the tormented chivalry of Ivanhoe, the hubrous of the Templar, the obstianancy & pride of Cedric, the beauty & grace of Rowena & Rebecca, the sharp witted humor of Wamba, the faithfulness of Gurth, and the pride and love of the miserly Isaac this work covers the gamut of society in medival England. Definitiely worth the read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel IVANHOE is a thoroughly enjoyable masterpiece by one of the greatest story tellers this world is ever likely to know. Hints are given as to where the story is going, making it easy to follow despite being set in long ago England. Memorable characters abound, especially the Norman Knight Templar, villainous Brian de Bois-Guibert, the Jewess Rebecca of York and a supporting cast led by Wamba the Jester and Gurth the swineherd. Throw in the thinly disguised Black Knight (King Richard the Lion-Hearted), his crafty brother Prince John, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, sullen Saxons, ruthless Normans like Front-de-Boeuf, worldly churchmen, beautiful women and the lovers Wilfred of Ivanhoe and Rowena and you have a tale hard to set down till read cover to cover. *** The motivations of all the characters as well as 'where they are coming from' drive their actions. The visual backdrop is lush from joust, to castle siege, to witch trial. *** Finally, this is a powerful study of anti-Semitism, a few generations before Jews were driven out of England. The scene in Chapter XXVIII when Ivanhoe wakes to find his wound well tended by Rebecca is unforgettable. Initially, he is grateful. But honesty compels her to say, 'your handmaiden is a poor Jewess.' And 'Ivanhoe was too good a Catholic to retain the same class of feelings toward a Jewess.' Though it was hard for him to overcome the prejudices dinned into him by church and culture, in the end Ivanhoe alone champions Rebecca and prevents her being burned at the stake for witchcraft by the Grand Master of the Knights Templar. In her meeting with an apparently unprejudiced Rowena at novel's end, Rebecca of York asserts (Ch. XLIV) ' ... there is a gulf betwixt us. Our breeding, our faith, alike forbid either to pass over it. Farewell.' *** IVANHOE may be the best work of Scott's for someone to read first. It will not be his last.
jaygheiser on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Enjoyable rollicking adventure with damsels in distress, Robin Hood & Merry Men, Richard Lionheart
craiglucas on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Great Classic story. The ending was a bit of a let down, as it seemed a bit rushed. The language used thoughout was overly wordy and difficult to read. It would be great if modernised.
bhenry11 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
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.
MarysGirl on LibraryThing 3 days ago
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.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Now I know why bookstores have different sections for fiction and literature. Just before reading this, I read The Ivanhoe Gambit, which is based on Ivanhoe. I thought Gambit to be a good book. But it is quite pale in comparison to Ivanhoe itself. The plot, the characters and the descriptions of the setting have much more depth than the same in Mr. Hawke's work. I was half tempted to believe that I was meeting real people in 12th Century England. (Of course, I should also point out that Ivanhoe is a much longer book...) Anyway, the tale centers on Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a Saxon knight who has returned from a crusade in the Holy Land. His father has disowned him, because he dared to love the noble Rowena against the old man's wishes. His nation is under the power of Prince John, the dishonest brother of King Richard, who is looking to seize the throne for himself and who would not welcome Wilfred, a loyal follower of the King. What follows is a masterful tale of chivalry, politics and romance played out by realistic characters. The 18th century English of the book is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely worth the effort to read. It's a book for which I'll have to find space on my shelf.--J.
prof_brazen_guff on LibraryThing 3 months ago
A great tale, but marred by the staggeringly turgid language. I really struggled to make it to the end.
surreality on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Plot: At times a little hard to follow, and the subplots make it difficult to keep in mind exactly what is happening when and where. The plot moves very slowly but constantly. Characters: Characterization isn't the book's strongest suit. Often stereotypes are employed, though there are notable exceptions. The inclusion of Robin Hood and his merry men feels a bit off. The women are surprisingly layered, though they do fall under the damsel type. Style: Too many words. By far. The style is almost archaic at times and makes the story sound like a medieval knight's tale. Good for the atmosphere, but it makes reading rather difficult and exhausting at times. The book tries to be a historical novel, but there is too much fiction in it for that. Plus: much swashbuckling, interesting portrayal of England during the 12th century. Minus: The style can at times make it almost unreadable. Summary: a classic, but not on the absolute must-read-list
thorold on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Ivanhoe is one of those books that is so much a part of our culture it's almost redundant to read it, like David Copperfield, The great Gatsby, or whatever. Every book, film, or TV series of the last 190 years that has anything to do with medieval England, knights, jousting, castles, Templars, crusaders, Robin Hood, Richard Coeur de Lion, or whatever has to engage in some way with Ivanhoe: whether it builds on Scott's version of the events or debunks it. Picking holes is easy. Scott rearranged historical events to match his story, and generally used whatever interesting ideas he could pick up from medieval and antiquarian texts, without worrying too much about which century they referred to. But that's hardly the point: it's a glorious romp through medieval England, and we're there to enjoy ourselves, not to be pedantic. Knights are bold, Normans nasty, priests devious, and Robin Hood and his men are prepared to take on all comers if there's the chance of a good fight followed by a feast under the trysting tree. Volume one has a tournament as its climax; in volume two the evil baron's castle is besieged; and in volume three there is a trial by combat. What more could you want from a story?Scott's technique is rather Shakespearean - the "important" characters come on with a flourish of trumpets and do their stuff, but it's only in their dialogues with minor characters that we really get to know them. Ivanhoe himself is rather elusive as a hero - we only meet him rather briefly at the beginning and end of the book, and he's unconscious for just about the whole of volume two. The swineherd Gurth, the jester Wamba, and the superb Friar Tuck are the really interesting, memorable characters, who help us to work through the moral dilemmas of the plot. What's surprising about the book, if we remember it as just an adventure story, is that there are real moral dilemmas confronting the characters. Even in the trial scene, where the reader might expect little more than a show trial, Scott gives free rein to his inner lawyer, and we work systematically through the legal basis for the trial, the motivations of accuser and accused, and the testimonies of the witnesses. Even though we know the result has been pre-cooked, all the characters involved are reminded that they have a moral choice to make. This also comes out strikingly in the relations between the two women and their abductors. Neither de Bracy nor de Bois-Guilbert is quite sure what to do next when the maiden he has captured puts up a spirited resistance: we get to see the situation from the villains' point of view for a little bit and even feel sorry for them when they try to repent their crimes and win the hearts of their victims.An underlying theme of the whole book is the "Norman Yoke" idea: England in the 12th century still feels like an occupied country. The language divide is foregrounded to draw our attention to this. In the opening sequence, Wamba reminds us that Saxon pigs, sheep and cows become Norman pork, mutton and beef when they end up on someone else's plate. Scott probably wasn't aware that these distinctions only became firmly established in the 18th century, but it's an effective and memorable image. Cedric, the crusty Saxon thane who refuses to speak French or even move more than three steps from his table to greet a Norman guest, is a dignified but faintly ridiculous symbol of the old ways - Scott was surely thinking of the Scottish chieftains he depicts in his earlier Jacobite novels, refusing to acknowledge the Hannoverians and drinking to the king "over the water".Uncomfortable for the modern reader is Scott's treatment of the Jewish characters, Isaac and Rebecca. Rebecca is great, a feisty heroine who gains independence and self-sufficiency from her exclusion from English society (apart from herself, the Jewish community in Ivanhoe consists exclusively of old men). Isaac, however, comes over
sisterbooks on LibraryThing 3 months ago
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.
mattmcg on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Rarely-mitigated crap.Like listening to a man with Tourette's (who nevertheless knows only pleasant words) as he relates a half-remembered dull secondhand story. The Stephen King of (a)historical romances. By that I mean that there is a real story somewhere beneath this great mountain of bloviation. Sir Walter Scott would have been well served by a brutal editor.
johnthefireman on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I find myself re-reading this classic story again and again. It strikes a chord deep down in the emotions, although I'm not sure where and why. I love the "disinherited knight", and I suppose it's reassuring to see justice triumph in the end. Yet it is not simplistic and there are lots of strands in the story. The motif of local people living under a foreign invader is still topical in so many parts of the world.