Ivanhoe

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Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe title page.jpg
Title page of 1st edition (1820)
Author Sir Walter Scott
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Waverley Novels
Genre Historical novel, chivalric romance
Publisher A. Constable, Edinburgh
Hurst, Robinson, London
Publication date
1820
Pages 1,004, in three volumes
823.7
Preceded by Rob Roy
Followed by Kenilworth
Ivanhoe on the Scott Monument, Edinburgh (sculpted by John Rhind)

Ivanhoe /ˈvənˌh/ is a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott, first published in 1819 (all first editions carry the date of 1820, however, it was released at the end of December 1819) in three volumes and subtitled A Romance. At the time it was written it represented a shift by Scott away from fairly realistic novels set in Scotland in the comparatively recent past, to a somewhat fanciful depiction of medieval England. It has proved to be one of the best known and most influential of Scott's novels.

Ivanhoe is set in 12th-century England, with colourful descriptions of a tournament, outlaws, a witch trial and divisions between Jews and Christians. It has been credited for increasing interest in romance and medievalism; John Henry Newman claimed Scott "had first turned men's minds in the direction of the Middle Ages", while Carlyle and Ruskin made similar assertions of Scott's overwhelming influence over the revival, based primarily on the publication of this novel.[1] It has also had an important influence on popular perceptions of Richard the Lionheart, King John, and Robin Hood.

There have been several adaptations for stage, film and television.

Plot introduction

Ivanhoe is the story of one of the remaining Anglo-Saxon noble families at a time when the nobility in England was overwhelmingly Norman. It follows the Saxon protagonist, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is out of favour with his father for his allegiance to the Norman king Richard the Lionheart. The story is set in 1194, after the failure of the Third Crusade, when many of the Crusaders were still returning to their homes in Europe. King Richard, who had been captured by Leopold of Austria on his return journey to England, was believed to still be in captivity.

Plot summary

Opening

Protagonist Wilfred of Ivanhoe is disinherited by his father Cedric of Rotherwood for supporting the Norman King Richard and for falling in love with the Lady Rowena, a ward of Cedric's and descendant of the Saxon Kings of England. Cedric planned to marry Rowena to the powerful Lord Athelstane, a pretender to the Crown of England by his descent from the last Saxon King, Harold Godwinson. Ivanhoe accompanies King Richard on the Crusades, where he is said to have played a notable role in the Siege of Acre; and tends to Louis of Thuringia, who suffers from malaria.

The book opens with a scene of Norman knights and prelates seeking the hospitality of Cedric. They are guided there by a pilgrim, known at that time as a palmer. Also returning from the Holy Land that same night, Isaac of York, a Jewish moneylender, seeks refuge at Rotherwood. Following the night's meal, the palmer observes one of the Normans, the Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert, issue orders to his Saracen soldiers to capture Isaac.

The palmer then assists in Isaac's escape from Rotherwood, with the additional aid of the swineherd Gurth.

Isaac of York offers to repay his debt to the palmer with a suit of armour and a war horse to participate in the tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle, on his inference that the palmer was secretly a knight. The palmer is taken by surprise, but accepts the offer.

The tournament

The tournament is presided over by Prince John. Other characters in attendance are Cedric, Athelstane, Lady Rowena, Isaac of York, his daughter Rebecca, Robin of Locksley and his men, Prince John's advisor Waldemar Fitzurse, and numerous Norman knights.

On the first day of the tournament, a bout of individual jousting, a mysterious knight, identifying himself only as "Desdichado" (described in the book as Spanish, taken by the Saxons to mean Disinherited), defeats some of the best Norman competitors, including Bois-Guilbert, Maurice de Bracy (a leader of a group of "Free Companions"), and the baron Reginald Front-de-Boeuf. The masked knight declines to reveal himself despite Prince John's request, but is nevertheless declared the champion of the day and is permitted to choose the Queen of the Tournament. He bestows this honour upon the Lady Rowena.

On the second day, at a melee, Desdichado is the leader of one party, opposed by his former adversaries. Desdichado's side is soon hard pressed and he himself beset by multiple foes until rescued by a knight nicknamed 'Le Noir Faineant' ("the Black Sluggard"), who thereafter departs in secret. When forced to unmask himself to receive his coronet (the sign of championship), Desdichado is identified as Wilfred of Ivanhoe, returned from the Crusades. This causes much consternation to Prince John and his court who now fear the imminent return of King Richard.

Ivanhoe is severely wounded in the competition yet his father does not move quickly to tend to him. Instead, Rebecca, a skilled healer tends to him while they are lodged near the tournament and then convinces her father to take Ivanhoe with them to their home in York, when he is fit for that trip. The conclusion of the tournament includes feats of archery by Locksley, such as splitting a willow reed with his arrow. Prince John’s dinner for the local Saxons ends in insults.

Capture and rescue

In the forests between Ashby and York, Isaac, Rebecca and the wounded Ivanhoe are abandoned by their guards, who fear bandits and take all Isaac’s horses. Cedric, Athelstane and the Lady Rowena meet them and agree to travel together. The party is captured by de Bracy and his companions and taken to Torquilstone, the castle of Front-de-Boeuf. The swineherd Gurth and Wamba the jester manage to escape, and then encounter Locksley, who plans a rescue.

Le Noir Faineant in the Hermit's Cell by J. Cooper, Sr. From an 1886 edition of Walter Scott's works

The Black Knight, having taken refuge for the night in the hut of a local friar, the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst, volunteers his assistance on learning about the captives from Robin of Locksley. They then besiege the Castle of Torquilstone with Robin's own men, including the friar and assorted Saxon yeomen. Inside Torquilstone, de Bracy expresses his love for the Lady Rowena but is refused. Brian de Bois-Guilbert tries to seduce Rebecca and is rebuffed. Front-de-Boeuf tries to wring a hefty ransom from Isaac of York, but Isaac refuses to pay unless his daughter is freed.

When the besiegers deliver a note to yield up the captives, their Norman captors demand a priest to administer the Final Sacrament to Cedric; whereupon Cedric's jester Wamba slips in disguised as a priest, and takes the place of Cedric, who escapes and brings important information to the besiegers on the strength of the garrison and its layout. The besiegers storm the castle. The castle is set aflame during the assault by Ulrica, the daughter of the original lord of the castle, Lord Torquilstone, as revenge for her father's death. Front-de-Boeuf is killed in the fire while de Bracy surrenders to the Black Knight, who identifies himself as King Richard and releases de Bracy. Bois-Guilbert escapes with Rebecca while Isaac is rescued by the Clerk of Copmanhurst. The Lady Rowena is saved by Cedric, while the still-wounded Ivanhoe is rescued from the burning castle by King Richard. In the fighting, Athelstane is wounded and presumed dead while attempting to rescue Rebecca, whom he mistakes for Rowena.

Rebecca's trial and Ivanhoe's reconciliation

Following the battle, Locksley plays host to King Richard. Word is also conveyed by de Bracy to Prince John of the King's return and the fall of Torquilstone. In the meantime, Bois-Guilbert rushes with his captive to the nearest Templar Preceptory, where Lucas de Beaumanoir, the Grand-Master of the Templars, takes umbrage at Bois-Guilbert's infatuation and subjects Rebecca to a trial for witchcraft. At Bois-Guilbert's secret request, she claims the right to trial by combat; and Bois-Guilbert, who had hoped for the position, is devastated when the Grand-Master orders him to fight against Rebecca's champion. Rebecca then writes to her father to procure a champion for her. Cedric organises Athelstane's funeral at Coningsburgh, in the midst of which the Black Knight arrives with a companion. Cedric, who had not been present at Locksley's carousal, is ill-disposed towards the knight upon learning his true identity; but Richard calms Cedric and reconciles him with his son. During this conversation, Athelstane emerges – not dead, but laid in his coffin alive by monks desirous of the funeral money. Over Cedric's renewed protests, Athelstane pledges his homage to the Norman King Richard and urges Cedric to marry Rowena to Ivanhoe; to which Cedric finally agrees.

Soon after this reconciliation, Ivanhoe receives word from Isaac beseeching him to fight on Rebecca's behalf. Ivanhoe, riding by day and night, arrives in time for the trial by combat, but horse and man are exhausted, with little chance of victory. The two knights make one charge at each other with lances, Bois-Guilbert appearing to have the advantage. However, Bois-Guilbert, a man trying to have it all without offering to marry Rebecca, dies in the saddle before the combat can continue, dead of natural causes.

Fearing further persecution, Rebecca and her father plan to leave England for Granada. Before leaving, Rebecca comes to bid Rowena a fond farewell on her wedding day. Ivanhoe and Rowena marry and live a long and happy life together. Ivanhoe's military service ended with the death of King Richard.

Characters

  • Wilfred of Ivanhoe - the eponymous character, is a knight and son of Cedric the Saxon. He is a follower of King Richard.
  • Rebecca – a Jewish healer, young daughter of Isaac of York, a dark-haired beauty.
  • Lady Rowena – a Saxon lady under the protection of Cedric of Rotherwood, a fair-haired beauty.
  • Prince John – brother of King Richard
  • The Black Knight or The Sluggish KnightKing Richard, incognito
  • LocksleyRobin Hood, an English yeoman
  • The Hermit or Clerk of CopmanhurstFriar Tuck
  • Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert – a leader of the Knights Templar; a friend of Prince John
  • Isaac of York – the father of Rebecca; a Jewish merchant and money-lender
  • Prior Aymer – Prior of Jorvaulx Abbey; friendly to Prince John
  • Reginald Front-de-Boeuf – a local baron who was given Ivanhoe's estate by Prince John
  • Cedric the Saxon/Cedric of Rotherwood – Ivanhoe's father, a Saxon noble
  • Lucas de Beaumanoir – Grand Master of the Knights Templar
  • Conrade de Montfichet – a Templar knight
  • Maurice de Bracy – Captain of the Free Companions, a band of mercenaries. He introduces the word "freelance": "I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them... thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment".
  • Waldemar Fitzurse – Prince John's loyal minion; his name tied to Reginald Fitzurse, one of the killers of Thomas Becket
  • Athelstane of Coningsburgh – last of the Saxon royal line
  • Albert de Malvoisin – Preceptor of Templestowe
  • Philip de Malvoisin – a local baron, the brother of Albert
  • Gurth – Cedric the Saxon's swineherd
  • Wamba – Cedric the Saxon's loyal jester
  • Ulrica – An elderly woman locked in the castle of Front-de-Boeuf, where she has been imprisoned for much of her life. The castle was captured from her father by Front-de-Boeuf when she herself was young.
  • Kirjath Jairam of Leicester – a rich Jew
  • Hubert – winner of the first round of the archery contest
  • Alan-a-Dale – member of Locksley's band

Style

Critics of the novel have treated it as a romance intended mainly to entertain boys.[2] Ivanhoe maintains many of the elements of the Romance genre, including the quest, a chivalric setting, and the overthrowing of a corrupt social order to bring on a time of happiness.[3] Other critics assert that the novel creates a realistic and vibrant story, idealising neither the past nor its main character.[2][3]

Themes

Scott treats themes similar to those of some of his earlier novels, like Rob Roy and The Heart of Midlothian, examining the conflict between heroic ideals and modern society. In the latter novels, industrial society becomes the centre of this conflict as the backward Scottish nationalists and the "advanced" English have to arise from chaos to create unity. Similarly, the Normans in Ivanhoe, who represent a more sophisticated culture, and the Saxons, who are poor, disenfranchised, and resentful of Norman rule, band together and begin to mould themselves into one people. The conflict between the Saxons and Normans focuses on the losses both groups must experience before they can be reconciled and thus forge a united England. The particular loss is in the extremes of their own cultural values, which must be disavowed in order for the society to function. For the Saxons, this value is the final admission of the hopelessness of the Saxon cause. The Normans must learn to overcome the materialism and violence in their own codes of chivalry. Ivanhoe and Richard represent the hope of reconciliation for a unified future.[2]

Ivanhoe, though of a more noble lineage than some of the other characters, represents a middling individual in the medieval class system who is not exceptionally outstanding in his abilities, as is expected of other quasi-historical fictional characters, such as the Greek heroes. Critic György Lukács points to middling main characters like Ivanhoe in Sir Walter Scott's other novels as one of the primary reasons Scott's historical novels depart from previous historical works, and better explore social and cultural history.[4]

Allusions to real history and geography

The location of the novel is centred upon southern Yorkshire and northern Nottinghamshire in England. Castles mentioned within the story include Ashby de la Zouch Castle (now a ruin in the care of English Heritage), York (though the mention of Clifford's Tower, likewise an extant English Heritage property, is anachronistic, it not having been called that until later after various rebuilds) and 'Coningsburgh', which is based upon Conisbrough Castle, in the ancient town of Conisbrough near Doncaster (the castle also being a popular English Heritage site). Reference is made within the story to York Minster, where the climactic wedding takes place, and to the Bishop of Sheffield, although the Diocese of Sheffield did not exist at either the time of the novel or the time Scott wrote the novel and was not founded until 1914. Such references suggest that Robin Hood lived or travelled in the region.

Conisbrough is so dedicated to the story of Ivanhoe that many of its streets, schools, and public buildings are named after characters from the book.

Lasting influence on the Robin Hood legend

The modern conception of Robin Hood as a cheerful, decent, patriotic rebel owes much to Ivanhoe.

"Locksley" becomes Robin Hood's title in the Scott novel, and it has been used ever since to refer to the legendary outlaw. Scott appears to have taken the name from an anonymous manuscript – written in 1600 – that employs "Locksley" as an epithet for Robin Hood. Owing to Scott's decision to make use of the manuscript, Robin Hood from Locksley has been transformed for all time into "Robin of Locksley", alias Robin Hood. (There is, incidentally, a village called Loxley in Yorkshire.)

Scott makes the 12th-century's Saxon-Norman conflict a major theme in his novel. Recent re-tellings of the story retain his emphasis. Scott also shunned the late 16th-century depiction of Robin as a dispossessed nobleman (the Earl of Huntingdon). This, however, has not prevented Scott from making an important contribution to the noble-hero strand of the legend, too, because some subsequent motion picture treatments of Robin Hood's adventures give Robin traits that are characteristic of Ivanhoe as well. The most notable Robin Hood films are the lavish Douglas Fairbanks 1922 silent film, the 1938 triple Academy Award-winning Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn as Robin (which contemporary reviewer Frank Nugent links specifically with Ivanhoe[5]), and the 1991 box-office success Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner). There is also the Mel Brooks spoof, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. In most versions of Robin Hood, both Ivanhoe and Robin, for instance, are returning Crusaders. They have quarrelled with their respective fathers, they are proud to be Saxons, they display a highly evolved sense of justice, they support the rightful king even though he is of Norman-French ancestry, they are adept with weapons, and they each fall in love with a "fair maid" (Rowena and Marian, respectively).

This particular time-frame was popularised by Scott. He borrowed it from the writings of the 16th-century chronicler John Mair or a 17th-century ballad presumably to make the plot of his novel more gripping. Medieval balladeers had generally placed Robin about two centuries later in the reign of Edward I, II or III.

Robin's familiar feat of splitting his competitor's arrow in an archery contest appears for the first time in Ivanhoe.

Historical accuracy

The general political events depicted in the novel are relatively accurate; the novel tells of the period just after King Richard's imprisonment in Austria following the Crusade and of his return to England after a ransom is paid. Yet the story is also heavily fictionalised. Scott himself acknowledged that he had taken liberties with history in his "Dedicatory Epistle" to Ivanhoe. Modern readers are cautioned[citation needed] to understand that Scott's aim was to create a compelling novel set in a historical period, not to provide a book of history.

There has been criticism of Scott's portrayal of the bitter extent of the "enmity of Saxon and Norman, represented as persisting in the days of Richard" as "unsupported by the evidence of contemporary records that forms the basis of the story."[6] However, Scott may have intended to suggest parallels between the Norman conquest of England, about 130 years previously, and the prevailing situation in Scott's native Scotland (Scotland's union with England in 1707 – about the same length of time had elapsed before Scott's writing and the resurgence in his time of Scottish nationalism evidenced by the cult of Robert Burns, the famous poet who deliberately chose to work in Scots vernacular though he was an educated man and spoke modern English eloquently).[7] Indeed, some experts suggest that Scott deliberately used Ivanhoe to illustrate his own combination of Scottish patriotism and pro-British Unionism.[8][9]

The novel generated a new name in English – Cedric. The original Saxon name had been Cerdic but Sir Walter misspelled it – an example of metathesis. "It is not a name but a misspelling" said satirist H. H. Munro.

In England in 1194, it would have been unlikely for Rebecca to face the threat of being burned at the stake on charges of witchcraft. It is thought that it was shortly afterwards, from the 1250s, that the Church began to undertake the finding and punishment of witches and death did not become the usual penalty until the 15th century. Even then, the form of execution used for witches in England was hanging, burning being reserved for those also convicted of treason. There are various minor errors, e.g. the description of the tournament at Ashby owes more to the 14th century, most of the coins mentioned by Scott are exotic, William Rufus is said to have been John Lackland's grandfather, but he was actually his great-great-uncle, and Wamba (disguised as a monk) says "I am a poor brother of the Order of St Francis", but St. Francis of Assisi only began his preaching ten years after the death of Richard I.

"For a writer whose early novels were prized for their historical accuracy, Scott was remarkably loose with the facts when he wrote Ivanhoe... But it is crucial to remember that Ivanhoe, unlike the Waverly books, is entirely a romance. It is meant to please, not to instruct, and is more an act of imagination than one of research. Despite this fancifulness, however, Ivanhoe does make some prescient historical points. The novel is occasionally quite critical of King Richard, who seems to love adventure more than he loves the well-being of his subjects. This criticism did not match the typical idealised, romantic view of Richard the Lion-Hearted that was popular when Scott wrote the book, and yet it accurately echoes the way King Richard is often judged by historians today."[10]

Rebecca may be based on Rebecca Gratz,[11] a Philadelphia teacher and philanthropist and the first Jewish female college student in America. Scott's attention had been drawn to Gratz's character by novelist Washington Irving, who was a close friend of the Gratz family. The assertion has been disputed, but it has been supported by "The Original of Rebecca in Ivanhoe", in The Century Magazine in 1882. The two Jewish characters, the moneylender Isaac of York and his beautiful daughter Rebecca, feature as main characters; the book was written and published during a period of increasing struggle for the emancipation of the Jews in England, and there are frequent references to injustices against them.

Sequels

Classic Comics issue #2

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The novel has been the basis for several motion pictures:

There have also been many television adaptations of the novel, including:

Victor Sieg's dramatic cantata Ivanhoé won the Prix de Rome in 1864 and premiered in Paris the same year. An operatic adaptation of the novel by Sir Arthur Sullivan (entitled Ivanhoe) ran for over 150 consecutive performances in 1891. Other operas based on the novel have been composed by Gioachino Rossini (Ivanhoé), Thomas Sari (Ivanhoé), Bartolomeo Pisani (Rebecca), A. Castagnier (Rébecca), Otto Nicolai (Il Templario), and Heinrich Marschner (Der Templer und die Jüdin). Rossini's opera is a pasticcio (an opera in which the music for a new text is chosen from pre-existent music by one or more composers). Scott attended a performance of it and recorded in his journal, "It was an opera, and, of course, the story sadly mangled and the dialogue, in part nonsense."[14]

Rail line

The railway running through Ashby-de-la-Zouch was known as the Ivanhoe line between 1993 and 2005, in reference to the book's setting in the locality.

See also

References

  1. ^ Alice Chandler, "Sir Walter Scott and the Medieval Revival", Nineteenth-Century Fiction 19.4 (March 1965): 315–332.
  2. ^ a b c Duncan, Joseph E. (March 1955). "The Anti-Romantic in "Ivanhoe"". Nineteenth-Century Fiction. 9 (4): 293–300. doi:10.1525/ncl.1955.9.4.99p02537. JSTOR 3044394.
  3. ^ a b Sroka, Kenneth M. (Autumn 1979). "The Function of Form: Ivanhoe as Romance". Studies in English Literature (Rice). 19 (4): 645–661. JSTOR 450253.
  4. ^ Lukacs, Georg (1969). The Historical Novel. Penguin Books. pp. 31–39.
  5. ^ Nugent, Frank S. (13 May 1939). "The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)". Reviews. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Ivanhoe", page 499. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 1989
  7. ^ Linklater, Andro (24 January 2009). "Freedom and Haughmagandie". Book Review. The Spectator. Archived from the original on 3 December 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  8. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (16 August 2010). "Scotland's image-maker Sir Walter Scott 'invented English legends'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  9. ^ Kelly, Stuart (2010). Scott-land: The Man who Invented a Nation. Polygon. ISBN 978-1846971792.
  10. ^ "Analytical overview: Ivanhoe". SparkNotes. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  11. ^ Baumgold, Julie (22 March 1971). "The Persistence of the Jewish American Princess". New York. pp. 25–31.
  12. ^ Abrams, Nathan, ed. (August 2016). "Introduction". History in Plain Sight: Jews and Jewishness in British Film, Television, and Popular Culture. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 9780810132849. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Ivanhoe at epguides.com
  14. ^ Dailey, Jeff S. Sir Arthur Sullivan's Grand Opera Ivanhoe and Its Musical Precursors: Adaptations of Sir Walter Scott's Novel for the Stage, 1819–1891, (2008) Edwin Mellen Press ISBN 0-7734-5068-8

External links

  • Online text on Wikisource
  • Ivanhoe at Project Gutenberg
  • Online edition at [email protected]
  • Full text online in HTML at dustylibrary.com, by chapter
  • First edition at Google Books: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3
  • Ivanhoe public domain audiobook at LibriVox
  • Ivanhoe Map

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "Ivanhoe". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.

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