Ivanhoe Walter Scott and the historical novel

Most of us are familiar with the story in Ivanhoe (1819) by Scottish novelist Walter Scott. The background is that King Richard of England that have been imprison in Austria and his brother Prince John have overtaken the crown under false pretenses and in hoop of that his brother never will return to England. England, at the time is divided between Norman and Anglo-Saxon people in which the former has taken a dominant position. 

The plot is supported by tourneys with Ivanhoe and Robin Hood under false name, and also the mystic Black Knight.  

Ivanhoe is not a historical person. As the normal procedure in his novels, Walter Scott creates a plot with historical persons, but letting the main character be fictionalized.

Walter Scotts novels is however far from the chivalric romance and in the way his novel yields realistic descriptions of characters and milieu. The description of a character can takes a full page and be quit meticulous concerning personality and appearance. 

In the terms of narrative technique, Walter Scott introduced several methods that since then being common in novels.

Although Ivanhoe has remained a property of popular culture, Walter Scott are otherwise no longer read to the same degree as some of his contemporaries such as Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. The traditional adventure genre in whole are not as popular traditional among adult audiences. There are relative that nowadays read novels such as Ivanhoe or Treasure Island–the search of excitement through books has shifted towards the crime genre.

The author

Walter Scott (1771-1832) created the modern historical novel and was in his lifetime the most read writer of fiction literature.

The time settings spanned over several centuries and varies from High Middle Ages to Medieval to 18th century. The subjects differ widely in the big production of Scott. Two of his famous novels are Ivanhoe and Rob Roy in which the famous knight Ivanhoe and the Scottish clan leader Rob Roy have the main roles. Especially the first is wide-known even today much thanks to its popularization through TV series and movies.

< 19th Century