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Rip Van Winkle

Katarzyna Wasylak

on 31 October 2012

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Transcript of Irving

1783 – 1859 Washington Irving New York after 1800 Washington Irving
1783 – 1859 Rip Van Winkle passed Philadelphia in population
became the commercial capital of the United States
has been a growing seaport
was already a germ of a cosmopolitan metropolis which attracted ambitious immigrants and talented men from different parts of the United States the economic power shifted from the Dutch landholders to city capitalists, entrepreneurs, and self-made magnates

the obsessive interests of New York were business and politics

writers were generally young men, more distinguished for enterprise, talent, and adaptability than for literary training and education; they wrote merely incidentally during the early years of their business careers The Knickerbocker Era
(~1810-1840) was an age of journalism

a proliferation of journals made it easy for almost anyone to try his power as an author

many men from other professions, esp. from the law, shifted into journalism

they worked on the fringe of literature and belonged less to the world of letters than to the world of affairs

only few Knickerbockers were professional writers, rather, they were journalistic jack-of-all-trades

popular forms of composition were short pieces, like essays, sketches, tales, and satirical prose group of writers active in and around New York City during the first half of the 19th century. Taking its name from Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York (1809), the group, whose affiliation was more a regional than an aesthetic matter, sought to promote a genuinely American national culture and establish New York City as its literary centre. The most important members of the group were Irving, his friend the novelist J.K. Paulding, James Fenimore Cooper, and William Cullen Bryant. Knickerbocker school Washington Irving was born on April 3, 1783, in New York City, son of a wealthy merchant. He studied law privately but did not pursue it as a career although he practiced it briefly. He began his career writing satirical essays for newspapers.

Irving's print debut, however, was in 1802 when he published a collection of nine observational letters, The Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. He used the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle.
The letters first appeared in the November 15 edition of the New York Morning Chronicle, a political-leaning newspaper of the time. The letters contained satire of the early 19th century New York society and culture.

When he was 26, Washington Irving published A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty. He used the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, who was supposed to be an eccentric Dutch-American scholar. The book was a social satire, a comic account of the early years of Dutch settlement in Manhattan, and it became part of New York folklore.

A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty gained Irving wide acclaim. Eventually, the word "knickerbocker" was used to describe any New Yorker who could trace his/her family to the original Dutch settlers.

In 1815, at the age of 32, Irving went to England where he lived for many years. Irving's writing His literary method was to combine "something old and something new, something borrowed, something blue"

Irving wrote of a frontier - the frontier between the here and now and the faraway and long ago. Both in time and place he pictured this borderland between the natural and the supernatural, the old and the new, the fact and the idea.

The humor which appears in his tales is part of his device of merging the real with the fanciful. The comic suggestion in effect denies the literal truth of the account - thus removes it into the realm where fact and fantasy mingle. When he was 37, he published his most successful book, The Sketch Book. It is a collection of essays and sketches on English folk customs, Native Americans, and legends from his childhood in New York State.

The book contains two of his most famous stories: "Rip Van Winkle" and "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," in which the schoolmaster named Ichabod Crane meets with a headless horseman.

With the success of The Sketch Book, Irving became a professional writer; he returned to New York in 1832 a literary hero.

Washington Irving died at the age of 76, November 28, 1859. Throughout the United States, there are many schools, hotels, and places taken in his fictional books.

Irving was the first American-born author to win reputation in England. Like many authors, past and present, Washington Irving often relied on mythology and earlier tales when creating short stories. Some of these earlier stories he simply used as inspiration; others, such as "Rip Van Winkle," brought accusations of plagiarism.

Irving most likely found his inspiration for "Rip" in the German folk story, "Peter Klaus the Goat Herd," first recorded by J.C.C. Nachtigal in the 1800 work, Volks-Sagen. PETER KLAUS THE GOATHERD Rip Van Winkle In the village of Sittendorf in Germany there dwelt, a long time ago, a poor but worthy man whose name was Peter Klaus. All the people for miles around knew Peter. I have observed that he was a simple good-natured man; he was, moreover, a kind neighbor, and an obedient hen-pecked husband. Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; He was not fond of hard work. He could not have been persuaded for all the money in the world to spend his days in a shop tinkering at a trade. The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. Near one end of the lawn were twelve old-fashioned knights playing at ninepins. The knights were [229] dressed in a very queer way. They wore long hose and silver-buckled shoes. Their snow-white hair and beards reached almost to their knees. On entering the amphitheatre, new objects of wonder presented themselves. On a level spot in the centre was a company of odd-looking personages playing at nine-pins. They were dressed in quaint outlandish fashion; ... They all had beards, of various shapes and colors. he drank right out of the pitcher...The wine made him very brave .... and every time one of the bowls rolled toward the table he would run and take another sip from the pitcher. At last, however, his head began to feel heavy; and ... he fell gently over upon the grass and went to sleep. 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 Peter Klaus awoke he found himself lying on the grass ... the trees and shrubs seemed strange to him—they were much larger than when he had seen them before, and there were many new ones that he did not remember. On waking, he found himself on the green knoll ... He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean, well-oiled fowling-piece, he found an old firelock lying by him, the barrel incrusted with rust, the lock falling off, and the stock worm-eaten. Before reaching the village he met a number of people; but they were all strangers to him ... In the village the women and children stood in their doorways and stared at him as he passed. All were strangers to him. He noticed that some of them stroked their chins and laughed; and without thinking much about it, he put his hand to his own chin. What was his surprise to find that he had a beard more than a foot long! As he approached the village he met a number of people, but none whom he new, which somewhat surprised him, for he had thought himself acquainted with every one in the country round ... They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise, and whenever they cast their eyes upon him, invariably stroked their chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture induced Rip, involuntarily, to do the same, when, to his astonishment, he found his beard had grown a foot long! "Peter Klaus!" cried the young mother. "Why, that was my father's name. It is now twenty years since he was lost. His flock came home without him one evening, and all the village searched night and day among the hills and on the mountain, but could not find him. I was then only four years old.""And I am your father!" cried Peter. "I am Peter Klaus who was lost. Don't any of you know Peter Klaus?" The honest man could contain himself no longer. He caught his daughter and her child in his arms. “I am your father!” cried he—“Young Rip Van Winkle once— old Rip Van Winkle now! Does nobody know poor Rip Van Winkle?” Characters: Rip Van Winkle Dame Van Winkle Nicholas Vedder Mr. Doolittle Judith Gardenier The Ghosts of Henry Hudson
and his crew Washington Irving's Political Views in Rip Van Winkle Washington Irving expresses both his positive and negative Republican thoughts on American democracy in Rip Van Winkle. Irving acts as both a storyteller and a historian by examining the changes in America after the Revolution. He admired the changes because America had become an independent nation. On the other hand, he opposed the changes because of the impact it had internally on society. Society experienced great anxieties of generational changes and had lost their sense of the past. American Revolution He was skeptic of the nation’s future as a democratic republic, and he initiated awareness to issues he felt were important, such as the changes in generational society caused by new values of family life, individualism, and anxieties from those changes. Irving viewed the changes caused by American Revolution from his Republican standpoint. He felt that it was the “best form of government for his country” (Guttmann 166). Although he strongly admired English society, he saw how both English and American society could be threatened by disorder When the people in the village confront Rip, they inquire whether he is a Federal or a Democrat. The crowd demands to know immediately what party he is.
This incident shows the importance of politics in the everyday people and the irrationality of American democracy.
The mob-questioning Rip seems to be chaotic. Bystanders of the mob shouted “A tory! A spy! A refugee! Hustle him! Away with him!” when Rip said he was a supporter of King George (Irving 463). The mob was almost out of control and took “great difficulty” for the important man to restore order in the crowd (Irving 483). Individualism The issue with individualism according to Irving was that it took away the meaning of family. Irving wanted a balance in the family life. Dame Van Winkle wanted “too much” from Rip, and therefore he was unhappy. However, Rip didn’t want enough interaction with his family that it also caused unhappiness. Selfishness came into play, and the idea of family became more vague and uncertain (Warner 5). Rip fails to adapt right away to this generational change because he awakens in ignorance of the Republican ways (Ferguson 4). He finds himself “alone in the world” and refers to the people and places in his past as “rotten and gone” when he realizes everything has changed. He felt that America’s conservative society was missing a sense of the past (Guttmann 166). Irving was also greatly influenced by his experience in England. After living there for several years, he felt that American’s should still look to England for protection (Hedges 128). He believed that America was a “young nation, necessarily an imitative one” and must take “model from the existing nations of Europe” (Hedges 128). But because people were forgetting their past history, this was impossible. Philosophical Influences Irving was distraught by many of the new methods and influences of the time. Philosopher Thomas Paine had an influence over society with his new methods of thinking. In Paine’s Common Sense, he proposes that there is a “new method of thinking hath arisen and all plans, proposals, etc. to the commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacs of the last year, they are useless now” (Ferguson 4). He thought that the America and Europe should be equal in their ways, which is why he opposed the thoughts of Paine. Finding that America lacked one thing that Europe had which was “a conservative society with a sense of the past” (Guttmann 166). These internal changes people had to face caused much anxiety in people who did not change as rapidly as society did. British Rule and Democracy Irving uses historical allusions and symbolic characters to mockingly compare colonial life under British rule to the democracy of the young United States. Dame Van Winkle�s harsh control over her husband represents King George and the English rule of the colonies. Whereas the colonies were mistreated by George, yet felt faithful and attached to the Crown, Rip stood by his demanding wife. Rip returns to the village conveniently on election day. He is asked what political party he belongs to, Federal, or Democrat. The weakness and paranoia of the young system is exposed when Rip is first accused of attempting to start a riot, and then of being a spy for the British. Irving promotes Rip�s laziness and carefree attitude as the ideal and typical colonist, and he uses this characterization to analyze the young democracy. While Rip understands that there was a war, and that his status of citizenship is changed, yet he still is the same person. Irving is mocking the lack of importance of the dramatic changes to many Americans. "Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age when a man can be idle with impunity, he took his place once more on the bench at the inn door, and was reverenced as one of the patriarchs of the village, and a chronicle of the old times “before the war.”"
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