A Different Perspective on Ivanhoe



Whenever I think about Ivanhoe, I think of my nephew Will.  Will has many credentials: he knows every country and capital in the world; he’s read every issue of National Geographic, he’s a great rugby player, he’s been to 85% of theart museums in the world; he speaks Farsi, and he’s taken a solo trip to Iran.  Some day Will will give me a guided tour through the best museums in NYC.  That Art History degree needs to be used occasionally. But I digress.

Will voluntarily picked up Ivanhoe and read it when he was in the fifth grade.  And he understood it!! Move over, Will.  Whenever I think of IvanhoeI now think of this review, written by my friend JT (Btolly‘s daughter) for a collegeclass.  I begged her to let me post it.  She graciously agreed, sweet girl!

While I don’t share her scorn for this book, her ferocity is entertaining.

Here is a book with a weak hero, a dead boring plot line and enough smarm to cover all other literary works of the 19th century. What was Sir Walter Scott thinking? Listen to the eloquence: “Alas, fair Rowena,”returned De Bracey “you are in the presence of your captive, not your jailer.” One might just as well read a Harlequin Romance and get the same story. It is sickening to the stomach.

The whole book is a grease slick for the characters to ooze through with continual dialogs of unimaginative, unoriginal, doe-eyed, pansy-pantsed love speeches. Scott’s desperate attempts to save this “classic” is to throw in the ever controversial anti-semitism twist. But, alas, it works too well. Rebecca far outshines Rowena as a woman of substance, not fluff. If Ivanhoe was at all a real man’s man, he would go for tying the knot around Rebecca and not his lance.

Ivanhoe, whose real name is Wilfred, spends most of his time brooding in the forest with a fat friar, ordering his good friend “the fool” around. Gird your loins and defend your country, man! Go save your King! Scott should be shouting this from the highest parapet, but instead he locks his love-tortured heroine there. Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse, the villain gets slain. This of course is to ensure the happy ending; the return of the king andthe blessed marriage of two ridiculous dunces.      ~ JT


6 thoughts on “A Different Perspective on Ivanhoe

  1. Ha ha!  sounds like JT told all I need to know about this book 🙂 
    Thanks for doing the work for me.
    Dana in GA
    PS  How many nieces/nephews do you have?  Lots, I’ll bet.

  2. Bonnie, yep you caught us!  I love that girl, don’t you know…Dana, not that many, since three of my siblings don’t have children of their own.  On my side of the family, I have four nephews and five nieces. Not counting their spouses which I appropriate as my own too…

  3. Sorry, I loved it. It spoke of  chivalry and tradition. Seeing the bravery of both women as they determine not to allow themselves to be degraded is a lesson for the young women of today. I am haunted by the  white swan image of Rebecca standing on the edge of etenity in her own knightlike feminine way. I think the antisemitism is an accurate description of the time and should be viewed that way. The old ways may seem schlocky but the character from which it sprang is much deeper than the soap opera stuff my beloved JT saw. I read it as a kid and then as an adult with an entirely different perspective. Yeah, I wished Ivanhoe to choose Rebekah, but it simply wouldn’t have been reality if he had. She goes off in an uncertain future and you are left wondering after her, longing for happiness for her. It would have been true schlock if he had chosen her. Sorry JT.  Love you, M in sc

  4. After reading Ivanhoe, my old, bedraggled edition had some commentary in the back of the book. I learned the story, which I had just enjoyed as a story, had many detractors and critics. There were several stories that used the idea of Rebecca’s worthiness in the plot line. In one, Ivanhoe abandons Rowena and runs after Rebecca.
    A&E did a good rendition about 15 years ago or so. Much better that the old movie version
    Keep up the good work MissTolly!

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