Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe – to chapter 10

Well I say to chapter 10 but numbers never were my strong point and I’ve just checked the original comments between myself and Judith and realise that although we had agreed on chapter 10, I’ve read on to chapter 14 – silly me.

Anyway, so far Ivanhoe is turning out to be a breeze to read, people do moan that Scott is too wordy for the modern reader, and he is of the variety of author who writes 50 words when 20 might have done the job, but then you would miss out on all the lovely detailed description of people’s clothing and the settings and scenery.

Ivanhoe is set in the 12th century, the Normans had successfully invaded England in 1066 of course and since then they have been taking over from the Saxons, most of the so-called nobility are Normans and very much look down on the Saxons, even those who have managed to hang on to their land. So the Saxons are abused and mocked in their own country, for the clothes they wear, their manners and the way they speak and the Normans are very much the top dogs.

Prince John is behaving badly (did you know that the name John is still avoided by the royal family?) and is obviously hoping that his brother King Richard (Lionheart) will never make it back to England, he has been taken captive on his way back from a crusade.

The prince has been borrowing money from Isaac the Jewish money lender, I say borrowing but it is really demanding gold with menaces and Isaac has no option but to hand the coins over. Isaac’s complaints are similar to those of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and it’s easy to see whose side Scott is on.

Ivanhoe was written in 1820 and this was a time when pressure was being put on parliament to allow Jews to become M.P.s but it was to be another 38 years before the first Jew took his seat at Westminster. If you want to read more about the Emancipation of Jews in Britain have a look here.

So I’m looking forward to getting on with more of Ivanhoe, reading to chapter 20 for around about this time next week. What are your thoughts on it, Judith, or anyone else?

I’m reading Ivanhoe as part of the Read Scotland 2014 challenge.

6 thoughts on “Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe – to chapter 10

  1. Katrina,
    I’ve fallen dreadfully behind with answering comments–have finally!! responded to one of yours. I so appreciated your comments about your take on the first ten chapters. And I’d like to say I’m surprised at myself but I love Scott’s wordiness! So refreshing in today’s spare, pared-down prose and dialogue.

    I’m so glad we’re reading it together. Fun!

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