Ivanhoe Recommendations

Book Cover of Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott


A Movie Adaptation for Your Consideration: The 1952 Ivanhoe, directed by Richard Thorpe and starring none other than Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Fontaine. It’s quality mid century American period fantasy and won plenty of awards and praise to prove it. A regular proto-blockbuster, and generally straightforward as far as adaptations go! 

Another Recommendation for the Road: The Scarlet Pimpernel – in which the exceptionally foppish, but secretly clever and athletic English nobleman Sir Percy Blakeney saves French aristocrats during the Reign of Terror under the guise of The Scarlet Pimpernel (the small red flower he leaves as his calling card – take that Zorro). He’s basically the first masked superhero with bonus courtly wit. Sure, I’ve skipped a few centuries from Ivanhoe’s era, but I love me a hero in disguise!


Ivanhoe is a book about a knightly quest or journey. I would highly recommend Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory if you want to hear more stories along these lines. Le Morte d’Arthur is a story which chronicles the knights of the round table in Camelot. If you like the Arthurian myth and stories of quests and tournaments, this book should scratch that itch nicely!

As for a film recommendation, for those of you wanting the spirit of chivalric tales and something light-hearted, I would recommend Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. It is a very silly and fun comedic film about knightly adventures and shenanigans that can happen on them. If you would like a more serious, but still enjoyable Arthurian myth adaptation the musical Camelot written by Alan J Lerner is a wonderful adaptation with beautiful musical numbers that capture the story of Arthur and Camelot. 


Going along with the Arthurian-legend theme, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Once and Future King series by T. H. White (which is loosely based on Le Morte d’Arthur and spawned Camelot, referenced above). Just thinking of the first book’s title, The Sword in the Stone, brings me back to one of my preteen summers, during which I invariably tore through series like this at the pool-side or air conditioned library. This retelling of the tale brings life to characters frequently personified as saintly, and imbues a complexity to them that makes them more relatable (and funny).

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