In the virulently male world of Ivanhoe, Jews are reviled and persecuted; women are at best political pawns and at worst the victims of rape or misogyny; the weak are subject to the relentless oppression of the master race, the Norman rulers of England; and violence is endemic. And yet there are suggestions of a better world: in the sisterhood of Jewess and Saxon princess, in the redistributive justice of Robin Hood and his band of outlaws, and in the determined attempt of the hero to effect political reconciliation between Saxons and Normans. Although set in 1194, after the return of Richard I of England from the Third Crusade, and although first published in 1820, Ivanhoe has a political modernity which makes it the most remarkable of all Scott's novels. It is also a superb and exciting tale, which culminates in the show trial of Rebecca the Jewess on a charge of sorcery.
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