The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories From the Sketch Book (Signet Classics)

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Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories from the Sketch Book (Mass Market Paperback)

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Why is this review inappropriate? Back to home page. Listed in category:. Email to friends Share on Facebook - opens in a new window or tab Share on Twitter - opens in a new window or tab Share on Pinterest - opens in a new window or tab Add to Watchlist. Opens image gallery Image not available Photos not available for this variation. Learn more - opens in new window or tab Seller information second. Perhaps, having observed her rival swains' reactions to supernatural perils, she has decided not to be a Puritan's bride, however nimbly he may dance the quadrille.

Ichabod steals away heavy at heart. Now, in the best-known part of the story, comes Irving's debt to Musaeus. But the stylistic control of the atmosphere shows Irving's own talent at its best, while the conclusion of the story is of signal importance in the literary development of an American myth. The darkness deepens; all the tales of ghosts and witches crowd into Ichabod's brain. Ichabod is appalled to find he no longer rides alone. A silent horseman plashes beside him.

Coming out of the valley, Ichabod gets a look at his companion and discovers, in terror, that he carries his head in his hands! Crane rushes toward the church-bridge, where the Hessian, pursuing Brom, had disappeared. Reaching the bridge, Ichabod turns 'to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule'—a fine pedantic touch! Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. Ichabod was never seen again in Sleepy Hollow.

His landlord burns his copy of Mather's Witchcraft and determines to keep his own children from school, 'observing that he never knew of any good come of this same reading and writing. Here in this York State valley, Irving's Dutch braggart concocts the perfect backwoodsman's revenge on the Yankee.

Or he may be a swashbuckling braggart, half horse, half alligator, like all the ring-tailed roarers and Thorpe's Big Bear of Arkansas. It was he who cut the cords that bound him to the English throne, to all king-ridden Europe. Naked he stands in the wilderness, bereft of the past, confident that all human history begins—with him.

Who is his adversary? Perhaps an insufferable fop from the city to the East—traditions, culture, lineage, class distinctions always come from the East in American mythology: from New England , from Europe. Perhaps he is a shrewd, narrow-nosed Yankee peddler. No matter; in either form he stands for that ancient heritage of useless learning and inherited guilt against which the American, in each succeeding generation, must rebel.

Such are the roles in this ever-recurring fable of the American destiny. Washington Irving, whose birth coincided with that of the Republic, formulated a theme of its national literature with his dramatization of the Republic's dominant myth. Even Henry James is in his debt. But what of Ichabod Crane? Did the pumpkin kill him? Of course not!


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  8. Our folk heroes never die. Wearing the magic cloak of metamorphosis, they stave off death forever by simply changing their occupations.

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    The ungainly pedagogue is no more—long live the New York City lawyer! For that is what Ichabod becomes after he makes his way from Sleepy Hollow. And onward and upward he goes: from the bar into politics, from his office to the press, thence to the bench. Far be it from Washington Irving to analyze or criticize the great American myth; where he finds a mythology of humor, he improves it on its own grounds.

    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: And Other Stories from the Sketch Book (Prebound)

    Responding instinctively to his fabulous materials, he makes Ichabod unforgettable in a stunning caricature. Brom, who is much more like life, is not so memorable, even though Americans always love a winner. Yet Ichabod is not ultimately the loser in this legend. All he has lost is a farm girl's love and a measure of self-respect; the former was no real passion, the latter can be repaired. Ichabod Crane is a sorry symbol of learning, of culture, of sophistication, of a decayed religious faith, of an outworn order in the world.

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    But Ichabod Crane is no Israelite; although an anachronism in all other respects, he is yet an American. And therefore he is immortal. Back to the city he goes, to find success. Brom Bones stays in the village and gets the girl. He deserved her more than Ichabod did, for while the scholar danced and counted his stuffed pigs, Brom experienced two human emotions: jealousy and love. Ichabod also knew two emotions, and two only. His were fear and ambition. He is not the loser, because he leads a full and prosperous life, experiencing to the brim the two emotions which give meaning to his existence: fear, in Sleepy Hollow, and ambition, in New York City.

    For it is the same ambition which led him to court Katrina Van Tassel that takes him later to the bar and the polls, to the editor's chair and the judge's bench. Ambition of this magnitude requires for its satisfaction a culture sufficiently complex to be capable of corruption. It cannot be gratified in the folk society of Sleepy Hollow Village, where the good people are as pure as the air. Fear and ambition are Ichabod's, but not love. That is because Ichabod Crane is not wholly human.

    A sterile intellectual, his head aswim with worthless anachronisms, his heart set on material gain, Ichabod is gracelessly devoid of the natural human affections. He is the bumpkin's caricature of what life in the seat of a corrupt civilization can make of a man. When one compares 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' to the bulk of Irving's work it seems anomalous that he could have mustered the imaginative power to enrich us so greatly, for most of Irving's writing betrays a lack of creative energy, a paucity of invention.

    Irving, after all, was never able successfully to transcend the limited aims of a 'sketch,' and he continued to rework his old themes in new disguises,10 telling a tale now set in old Dutch New York, now in Germany, now in England, now in Spain. They show all too plainly Irving's faults: his dependence upon secondary sources, and the restricted range of emotional experience from which he was able to create fiction. But in the characters of Ichabod and Brom Bones, Irving found archetypal figures already half-created by the popular imagination. Among all of Irving's characters only Rip Van Winkle has as great a power to move us; and Rip, too, is what the highly developed but narrow gift of a storyteller whose milieu was the fabulous has made of a character from folklore.

    Although the original Peter Klaus was German, the themes of Rip Van Winkle are universal: the pathos of change, the barely-averted tragedy of loss of personal identity. And, as Louis LeFevre has pointed out,11 Rip is indeed close to an aspect of the American national character—that yearning for escape from work and responsibility which is exemplified by a host of gadgets and the daydream dramas of contemporary popular culture.