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Ivanhoe (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 1, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 428 customer reviews
Book 6 of 19 in the Waverley Novels Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up--This is an excellent abridgment of the classic by Sir Walter Scott. The story line is very smooth and easy to follow. David Warner's reading is perfect. His British accent is easy to understand and adds to the telling of the story. Music added at the beginning and end of each side provides additional atmosphere. There is enough background information at the beginning of the presentation to allow listeners to follow the plot and the characters. This would be an excellent study tool when reading this work as a school assignment. The addition of a vocabulary list might help listeners with some of the unfamiliar words. The story has enough action and romance to make it a good listening experience for a wide range of ages, making it a valuable purchase for school and public libraries.?Pat Griffith, Schlow Memorial Library, State College, PA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The Modern Library is making a killing on TV/feature film tie-ins to classics. Like its recent incarnations of Gulliver's Travels and Emma, this offers a quality hardcover for little more than a paperback price.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140436588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140436587
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (428 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
It was fashionable during my school days (the 60s and 70s) to dismiss "Ivanhoe" as just another medieval romance replete with damsels in distress and their knights in shining armor. In retrospect, I think that was just a lazy excuse (certainly my own) to avoid wading through this rather lengthy, densely written historical novel. Take my advice, fellow reader: wade through. It is well worth your time and energy.
The story, of course, is set in Merry Ole England, with Richard the Lion-Hearted on the throne and his malevolent kid brother (the future King John of Magna Carta fame) plotting to take it away from him. From the history we do know of this period, King Richard rarely spent any time in England, much preferring to immerse himself in the Crusades or any other errant knight adventure which struck his fancy. In this setting we find the Saxon-bred Ivanhoe, who against his father's wishes joined Richard in the Middle East to fight the "Infidel." Ultimately, Ivanhoe finds his way back into his father's good graces, and I suppose at one level Sir Walter Scott's Classic is about their estrangement and final rapprochement. But "Ivanhoe" is so much more.
Perhaps the over-arching theme to "Ivanhoe" is the nascent reconciliation between the proud, yet vanquished, Saxons and their equally proud, conquering French Norman overlords. The story takes place about a century after the Norman Conquest, and it took a great many more years than that before the antagonists successfully blended together to form the greatest nation on earth. Equally great was the emergence of the language we now call English, which is in large measure a synthesis of the Saxon and Norman tongues.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This the first,the classic, novelized medieval Romance. Written the same year as Queen Victoria's birth, it gave us much of our modern conception of medieval tournaments, King John, Robin Hood, Richard Coeur de Lion, etc. (I realize I stretch things a bit by calling Sir Walter Scott "modern," but I speak only by comparison with medieval ballads, King Arthur, Robin Hood legends, etc.)

If you've ever thought "ok, that was cool" as Robin Hood split an arrow with another arrow at the Great Archery Tournament, or wondered where the idea of Robin Hood as the defender of Saxon yeomanry against the Villainous John of Anjou, Regent for the absent Richard, got its start -- it started here.

The book isn't all about Robin Hood, though; mostly, it's about Knights and Tournaments and foul Norman oppressors. There's a tournament, a trial by combat, a castle seige, a little bit of anti-racist message (in the person of a beautiful and noble-in-spirit Jewish beauty unjustly maligned and accused of witchcraft), multiple anonymous knights (including a Black Knight!), and in short all the important highlights of medieval ballads, conveniently arranged in the format of a historical novel.

Scott's historiography is a little off (for example, at one point a character pretends to be a Franciscan monk, when the order wasn't founded until about twenty years after the novel's action takes place), but Scott does make a real effort to avoid most anachronisms (moreso than many writers of "historical novels"). This kindle edition also includes Scott's introduction and notes, which show that he put real effort into basing many of the events in his book on excerpts from period ballads and tales (rearranging them, of course, as per his authorial prerogative).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Ivanhoe" is Romanticism writ large. The author's style is elegant and lucid - often very funny - and the interpolated poetry is fine, too. Dialogue, action and description are all well handled. Scott established the historical novel as a popular literary form, paving the way for Dumas, Fennimore Cooper and countless others since. Fennimore Cooper in particular, was directly inspired to take up writing by Scott's enormous success.

Although he has been criticized for historical errors, Scott includes a wealth of authentic detail and he certainly stays far closer to the truth than Hollywood ever does. (Here's a thought; why have we become ever more demanding of historical accuracy in our authors, yet able to accept the most glaring errors on the cinema screen?) The sensibilities reflected in this book are mostly those of a conservative gentleman and scholar of the nineteenth, rather than twelfth, century. In particular, the depiction of the Jewish characters and the master-servant relationships tells us as much about nineteenth century Britain as about medieval England. Nonetheless, it is in many ways a convincing portrait of life in the Middle Ages. Having lived in what is now the industrial wastescape of South Yorkshire (you saw it in "The Full Monty"), where much of the action of "Ivanhoe" takes place, I enjoyed Scott's vision of a still green and pleasant Merry England where deer roamed vast forests and knights went in search of adventure.

The varied cast of characters is one of the novel's great strengths. The reader cares what happens to them because they are so real. Oddly, the eponymous hero plays a minor, albeit crucial, role in the tale and the putative heroine Rowena is overshadowed by the more interesting Rebecca.
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