Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Search for America in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollo

The Search for America in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow      Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   In the early to mid-1800's, Washington Irving was an immensely popular writer heralded as one of the 'great' American writers.   Irving's importance lies especially in "Rip Van Winkle" and " The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the sketches in which he creates the vision of the alternate America(n).   His critique of American society through his main characters-Rip and Ichabod-and the towns in which they live gives shape to an America not usually acknowledged by his contemporaries, and thus crucial to American literary studies today.   J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur, who created the most definitive statement of "American" circa Irving's time, certainly would not.   Indeed, it is Crevecoeur's type of America that Irving opposes.   When viewed against the backdrop of Crevecoeur's definition of America, Irving's sketches portray a very different America-the other America.    Irving will be compared with Crevecoeur in five main sections:   "Building the European," in which Crevecoeur claims that traces of Europe can be found throughout American society; "The Melting Pot," in which Crevecoeur states that the European influences are assimilated into an American whole, and creating a new society; "The American Stranger," in which Crevecoeur claims that no one is a stranger in America; "American Industry," which looks at the spirit of industry found in Americans; and finally, "People of the Soil," which deals with Americans' ties with the land.   In all of these sections, Crevecoeur's mainstream view of American will serve to show Irving's unique America.    I. Building on the European When defining 'American,' Crevecoeur is quick to point out ... ...ary on the Works of   Washington Irving, 1860-1974.   Ed. Andrew B. Myers.   Tarrytown, NY:   Sleepy Hollow Restorations, 1976.   330-42. Pochmann, Henry A.   "Irving's German Tour and its Influence on His Tales."   PMLA   45 (1930) 1150-87. Ringe, Donald A.   "New York and New England: Irving's Criticism of American   Society."   American Literature 38 (1967): 455-67.   Rpt. in A Century of Commentary on the Works of Washington Irving, 1860-1974.   Ed. Andrew B. Myers. Tarrytown, NY: Sleepy Hollow Restorations, 1976.   398-411. Rourke, Constance.   American Humor: A Study of the National Character.   Garden City,   NY: Doubleday, 1931. Rubin-Dorsky, Jeffrey.   "The Value of Storytelling: 'Rip Van Winkle' and 'The Legend   of Sleepy Hollow' in the Context of The Sketch Book."   Modern Philology 82    (1985): 393-406.      

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