By Sir Walter Scott
The epitome of the chivalric novel, Ivanhoe sweeps readers into Medieval England and the lives of a memorable cast of characters. Ivanhoe, a trusted ally of Richard-the-Lion-Hearted, returns from the Crusades to reclaim the inheritance his father denied him. Rebecca, a vibrant, beautiful Jewish woman is defended by Ivanhoe against a charge of witchcraft--but it is Lady Rowena who is Ivanhoe's true love. The wicked Prince John plots to usurp England's throne, but two of the most popular heroes in all of English literature, Richard-the-Lion-Hearted and the well-loved famous outlaw, Robin Hood, team up to defeat the Normans and regain the castle. The success of this novel lies in Scott's skillful blend of historic reality, chivalric romance.
About the author
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scottish writer and poet and one of the greatest historical novelists.
Scott was born on August 15, 1771, in Edinburgh as the son of a solicitor Walter Scott and Anne, a daughter of professor of medicine. An early illness left him lame in the right leg, but he grew up to be a man over six feet and great physical endurance. Scott's interest in the old Border tales and ballads had early been awakened, and he devoted much of his leisure to the exploration of the Border country. He attended Edinburgh High School and studied at Edinburgh University arts and law. Scott was apprenticed to his father in 1786 and in 1792 he was called to the bar. In 1799 he was appointed sheriff depute of the county of Selkirk. In 1797 Scott married Margaret Charlotte Charpenter. They had five children.
In 1802-03 Scott's first major work, Minstrelsy Of The Scottish Border appeared. As a poet Scott rose into fame with the publication of The Lay Of The Last Minstrel (1805) about an old border country legend. It became a huge success and made him the most popular author of the day. It was followed by Marmion (1808), a historical romance in tetrameter. The Lady In The Lake appeared in 1810 and Rokeby in 1813. Scott's last major poem, The Lord Of The Isles, was published in 1815.
The opening lines
In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster.
The remains of this extensive wood are still to be seen at the noble seats of Wentworth, of Warncliffe Park, and around. Rotherham. Here haunted of yore the fabulous Dragon of Wantley; here were fought many of the most desperate battles during the Civil Wars of the Roses; and here also flourished in ancient times those bands of gallant outlaws, whose deeds have been rendered so popular in English song. Such being our chief scene, the date of our story refers to a period towards the end of the reign of Richard I., when his return from his long captivity had become an event rather wished than hoped for by his despairing subjects, who were in the meantime subjected to every species of subordinate oppression. The nobles, whose power had become exorbitant during the reign of Stephen, and whom the prudence of Henry the Second had scarce reduced to some degree of subjection to the crown, had now resumed their ancient license in its utmost extent; despising the feeble interference of the English Council of State, fortifying their castles, increasing the number of their dependants, reducing all around them to a state of vassalage, and striving by every means in their power, to place themselves each at the head of such forces as might enable him to make a figure in the national convulsions which appeared to be impending.
The film versions
Many films have been made on the basis of the novel Ivanhoe. Scene from some of the films and sketches are produced here.
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