Author: Washington Irving (1783–1859)
Downloaded: Project Gutenberg via iBooks
Washington Irving was born in Manhattan, New York into a family of merchants of Scottish–English descent. He was born soon after the end of the American Revolution and was named after George Washington.
He is best known today for two short stories Rip van Winkle (1819) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820). They have proved enduringly popular and many today will be familiar with the broad outline of the plots even before they have actually read the stories. Both stories have been adapted many times for both big and small screens and, given their brevity, sometimes expanded beyond recognition.
Rip van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow appeared in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., a collection of short stories and essays first published in seven instalments in the US from June 1819 to September 1820. It was published in 2 volumes in England in 1820, with the help of Irving’s friend and mentor the writer Walter Scott. The English edition (which Irving dedicated to Scott) contains 32 pieces compared to 29 in the English edition.
Irving and his contemporary James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) are among the the first American authors whose works were read across the Atlantic as well. They are considered pioneers of the American Literary Romanticism movement.
What is the story about?
Rip van Winkle starts in pre-independence New York. The eponymous character “was one of those happy mortals, of foolish, well–oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound. If left to himself, he would have whistled life away, in perfect contentment; but his wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was incessantly going, and every thing he said or did was sure to produce a torrent of household eloquence. Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing. This, however, always provoked a fresh volley from his wife, so that he was fain to draw off his forces, and take to the outside of the house — the only side which, in truth, belongs to a henpecked husband.”
One day, he encountered a group of strangely dressed men in the mountains. “By degrees, Rip’s awe and apprehension subsided. He even ventured, when no eye was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage which he found had much of the flavor of excellent Hollands. He was naturally a thirsty soul, and was soon tempted to repeat the draught. One taste provoked another; and he reiterated his visits to the flagon so often, that at length his senses were overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined, and he fell into a deep sleep.”
When he woke up, he found that it was 20 years later. “It was some time before he could get into the regular track of gossip, or could be made to comprehend the strange events that had taken place during his torpor. How that there had been a revolutionary war — that the country had thrown off the yoke of old England — and that, instead of being a subject to his Majesty George the Third, he was now a free citizen of the United States. Rip, in fact, was no politician; the changes of states and empires made but little impression on him; but there was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned, and that was—petticoat government. Happily, that was at an end; he had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony, and could go in and out whenever he pleased, without dreading the tyranny of Dame Van Winkle. Whenever her name was mentioned, however, he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast up his eyes; which might pass either for an expression of resignation to his fate, or joy at his deliverance.”
In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane must overcome a rival suitor Abraham (Brom Bones) Van Brunt, as well as the spectral Headless Horseman, to win the hands of the young heiress Katrina Van Tassel.
How is the e–book?
There is no introduction or notes.
Irving attributed Rip van Winkle (1819) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as well as an earlier collection to a fictional Dutch historian named Dietrich Knickbockers. According to the nba.com page on the New York Knicks:
The term “Knickerbockers” traces its origin to the Dutch settlers who came to the New World – and especially to what is now New York – in the 1600s. Specifically, it refers to the style of pants the settlers wore…pants that rolled up just below the knee, which became known as “Knickerbockers”, or “knickers”. In 1809, legendary author Washington Irving solidified the knickerbocker name in New York lore when he wrote the satiric A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker. Later known as Knickerbocker’s History of New York, Irving’s book introduced the word “knickerbocker” to signify a New Yorker who could trace his or her ancestry to the original Dutch settlers. With the publication of Irving’s book, the Dutch settler “Knickerbocker” character became synonymous with New York City. The city’s most popular symbol of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was “Father Knickerbocker”, complete with cotton wig, three-cornered hat, buckled shoes, and, of course, knickered pants … the Knickerbocker name had been an integral part of the New York scene for more than a century when the Basketball Association of America granted a charter franchise to the city in the summer of 1946. As can best be determined, the final decision to call the team the “knickerbockers” was made by the club’s founder, the legendary Ned Irish. The late Fred Podesta, the longtime Garden executive who passed away in 1999, once recalled, “The name came out of a hat. We were all sitting in the office one day – Irish, (publicity man) Lester Scott and a few others on the staff. We each put a name in the hat, and when we pulled them out, most of them said Knickerbockers, after Father Knickerbocker, the symbol of New York City. It soon was shortened to Knicks.”