Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, 1820
Certainly can’t think of childhood and the wild influences books have had on my imagination without thinking of Ivanhoe. This story boasts a cast of characters that are memorable and continue to spark imaginations almost 200 years after pen was first put to paper. The cast includes the disowned son – Wilfred, his angry father Cedric, the band of outlaws following Robin of Locksely, King Richard the Lionhearted returning to claim his throne, the beautiful Rowena and Rebecca, and a cast of villains including Prince John, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, and Maurice de Bracy.
In the story, set in Twelfth Century England, we see people driven by passions and emotions. Through their trials we can certainly gain an insight into what Sir Walter Scott may have witnessed in the struggles of his day. Through his work it is easy to imagine what he might have said if asked at a dinner party his opinion about the nature of man. He said as much in his work. He portrayed ambitious and ruthless men wrapping themselves in cloaks of clerical righteousness. Those with power and means, the nobility, disenfranchised others of less socially fortunate birth. Even those of lower birth embraced the extreme hatreds and prejudice of the day…in this case anti-semitism. At the same time, there is an opposing force, a force for good fighting valiantly against the negatives humanity has to offer. At its heart – it’s a wonderful old-fashioned tale of good versus evil. You have to read it for yourself to see how it ends.