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Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
Medieval England. King Richard the Lion-hearted, coming home from the Crusades, has been captured and imprisoned in Austria. His wicked brother, John, has seized the throne and refuses to pay Richard's ransom. Meanwhile the conflict between Saxon and Norman threatens to turn into civil war.
Standing above it all is Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the disinherited son of Cedric, a Saxon noble. Ivanhoe enraged his father by following the Norman Richard to the Crusades. Now back in England, he wants to help rescue Richard—and marry Cedric's ward, Rowena. But Cedric has pledged her to a highborn Saxon in hopes of creating a new Saxon royal line. To this mix Walter Scott adds several ferocious Norman villains, the legendary Robin Hood, a Shakespearean "wise fool" who constantly offers wryly sardonic comments on the action, and a sidelong look at English anti-Semitism, as a pair of Jewish characters, the beautiful Rebecca and her father, Isaac of York, alternately protect and garner protection from Ivanhoe.
With its clanging swords, burning castles, damsels in distress, and kings in disguise, Ivanhoe remains Scott's best-loved novel of historical romance.
Gillen DArcy Wood was born in Australia, and came to New York on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1992. He took his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2000, and is now Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of an historical novel, Hosack's Folly (Other Press, 2005), and a cultural history of Romantic literature and art, The Shock of the Real: Romanticism and Visual Culture, 1760–1860 (Palgrave, 2001), as well as numerous articles on nineteenth-century British literature and culture.