Rather than attempt to dissect the works of a more obscure writer I’ve decided to go with America’s first well known and widely respected author, Washington Irving.
Washington’s story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is well known among my peers, but I can accurately assume far less have bothered to read it. I am sure most are familiar with the many movies and cartoon knockoffs the Headless Horseman has spawned. They shall not fret however, as I will explore this literary classic for thy dear lackadaisical MTV generation. Upon first beginning the story, in parenthesis it states that the story was found among the papers of a Dietrich Knickerbocker. Also, in the beginning of Irving’s other story Rip Van Winkle it says the same. I can only wonder what Washington meant when he went out of his way use a pen name his stories, probably known to be his anyway.Was this to add to the mystical sense of the story? Was it a sort of “Blair Witch Project” kind of B.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
S. to add life and mock authenticity to the tale? Or is he merely poking a jab at the elitist and old-fashioned residents Dutch in New York? I do know the phrase Knickerbocker must have gained some notoriety as it’s a popular nick-name for a New Yorker and spawned an awful basketball team in desperate need of a new general manager. Irving’s story, with his long rambling paragraphs, isn’t necessarily easy to read, but is certainly is much more comprehensible that some of the other things we’ve read in this era. He may be long winded, but writes for the most part, clearly and wittingly lets us know the key parts to our story, it setting, its inhabitants, and our pro and antagonist. I like his writing and can see how this story has held up so well over the years, certainly a man before his time. The Legend of Sleepy Hallow is laden with classical and Shakespearean literary allusion.
I once received a very smart and savvy handout from an esteemed professor. The handout that told me this was quite common practice in the neoclassical era of writing. Irving also displays the authoritarian and elitist qualities in his writing as well. It’s puzzling to me why so many of these writers fall back obscure references.
It’s almost like the writers had pissing contest, whom can be cheekier and more inessential with quotes? At one point, while our resident hero Ichabod Crane is courting the fair blonde farmer’s daughter, he says, “To have taken the field openly against his rival, would have been madness; for he was not a man to be thwarted in his amours, any more than that stormy lover, Achilles.” Wow talk about an obscure reference! Luckily, being an astute reader of the classics… Ok I had the assistance of a footnote and I saw Brad Pitt’s “Troy” so I was able recall Homer’s “The Odyssey” on this one. However, I don’t understand why the writers of this era constantly feel the need to pull from these “classics”; its cheap, drags down their story, and is confusing as all hell. Irving repeatedly recalls Shakespeare in his descriptions, almost to the point of hilarity. In the beautiful description of Ichabod’s desire for fair Katrina Van Tassel’s and her inherence, he writes, “his mouth watered, as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye he pictured to himself every roasting pig running about with a pudding in its belly”. Again, I don’t get it. Sure it nice to make pop culture references in writing, matter of fact I think it’s a sign of a vast worldly intellect, but borrowing from Henry IV to describe our noble pedagogues eating habits perplexes me and want to attack my books’ footnotes with a sharpie.
Ignorance is bliss. I thought these guys weren’t too fond of the British. What if all our contemporary writers felt the need to borrow from the same old stories, is it just me or doesn’t this lack a bit of originality? Probably made those egomaniacs at the time feel smart and well read.As much as this bothers me, I really do enjoy the way Irving describes his characters. For instance Ichabod, “tall but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that may for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely thing together… his head shall flat at the top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long sniper nose, so that it might have been mistaken for a weathercock perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which was the wind blew.
” Words like easily let pick up a brush and haphazardly create an Ichabod caricature in your mind. It’s no coincidence that Irving choose a crane for this tall and lean gentleman’s name. Also great is the way he describes Cranes competition, the Agamemnon to his Achilles, Abraham a.k.a Brom Van Brunt, “always ready.