Ivanhoe has suffered cutbacks.
The novel by Sir Walter Scott has been hacked from 179,000 words to 80,000. Scott's writing style has been retained – verily, lest there be convulsions mongst professors of Scottish literature – but tens of thousands of commas and semi-colons have been laid waste; the punctuation has been brought up to date; this is me using semi-colons to show what old Walter wrote like but lacking the richness of language.
I nearly read one of Scott's books but the semi-colons and the long-windedness put me off. The works of this Borders and Edinburgh author did not appear to be on the reading list at my Glasgow comprehensive school.
So, to me, Waverley was an ABC cinema in Shawlands; Heart of Midlothian a dodgy football team from Edinburgh; Kenilworth a pub on Rose Street.
The Antiquary is a whisky but also, it turns out, a novel by Scott. As is Rob Roy, the film with Liam Neeson. Scott was so ahead of his time, he wrote Woodstock long before rock festivals were invented.
As a lad, I knew about Ivanhoe but not that the TV serial was based on a book by Scott. Ivanhoe as a TV programme didn't have much going for it, apart from a rousing theme tune – "Ivanhoe, Ivanhoe, to adventure bold adventure watch him go". There was freedom in Ivanhoe's banner and justice in his sword; he rode against the manor where tyranny was lord.
I didn't pick up from the TV serial exactly who Ivanhoe was fighting. I now learn he was a Saxon knight jousting with dastardly Norman nobles. Turns out his first name is Wilfred.
I do remember having a wooden sword and armour made of National Dried Milk tins. But I don't recall playing Saxons and Normans. Or any arguments about who was going to be Sir Wilfred.
My shameful ignorance of the works of Scott will be sorted when I read the abridged version of Ivanhoe. It has been brought up to date by Professor David Purdie who is president of the Sir Walter Scott Society and should know the ropes.
I tried to mug up on the Ivanhoe story using Wikipedia. But it warned that the plot summary "may be too long or excessively detailed". Another job for Prof Purdie.
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