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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving, William L. Hedges (Introduction)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories
by Washington Irving, William L. Hedges (Introduction)
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 1st 1999
by Penguin Classics (first published 1819)
Originally entitled, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, this collection of essays, sketches, and tales established Washington's reputation as America's foremost professional author. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle are classics of American fiction and display Irving's ability to depict American landscapes and culture. This volume also contains a number of gently ironic pieces about life in England that reflect the author's interest in the traditions of the Old World and his longings for his home in the New.

I read both stories, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” as a child and later, my son and I would read “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” every October until he became a teenager. It had been years since I had returned and it felt like I never left, as I came back to the familiar supernatural world of the Hudson Valley and its denizens. 

The other stories were wonderful and I can see why Washington Irving was America’s first professional writer to make his living by his pen. I enjoyed the other stories, especially “The Spectre Bridegroom.” That was another supernatural tale I remembered from my past. But it was "Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" that made me hunker down to read what I called comfort food of the fantastical. Rip Van Winkle, his wife, his dog, Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, Katrina Van Tassel and of course, last but never least, the Headless Horseman fill my imagination as I read. I could visualize the Hudson Valley and its haunts. I bet that Edgar Allan Poe read these very same stories, giving him fuel for his own imaginative tales.

It's autumn and Halloween soon will be here. Need some good ghostly tales to while away safe and sound inside your home? Sure, go ahead and buy the latest Stephan King horror novel, but take time to check out Washington Irving first. I promise you, his Headless Horseman just may haunt your nightmares afterwards. And you will return year after year as I have. After all, we all need comfort food of the fantastical.
5 sheep




Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Wikipedia page
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He began his literary career at the age of nineteen by writing newspaper articles under the pseudonym, "Jonathan Oldstyle."

In 1809, he published, The History of New York, under his most well known public persona, Diedrich Knickerbocker.

Irving is best known for his short stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" both of which appear in his book, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. which he published in 1819.

Irving's historical works include a five volume biography of George Washington (for whom he was named after) as well as biographies of Oliver Goldsmith, Muhammad, and several histories of 15th-century Spain dealing with subjects such as Christopher Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra. Irving felt a strong connection to Spain and was appointed by President John Tyler to serve as the first Spanish speaking U.S. minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846.

2 comments:

  1. I've always liked the Sleepy Hollow stories.

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  2. It is a perfect tale for this time of the year.

    ReplyDelete