Rip Van Winkle and American Mythology

23 Nov

American Literature I


 Washington Irving was credited with introducing the short story as a new genre in American literature, as William Hedges observes, yet I find it surprising that this story could have been taught as utterly original. As Emerson and the Transcendentalists were able to synthesize the mystical aspects of Puritan thought with the rational and secular facets of Enlightenment thinking, so Irving weaves a new tapestry out of many existing threads of American experience. “Rip Van Winkle” is a mature version of Franklin’s short fictional sketches, such as “The Speech of Polly Baker,” and if one were to read isolated passages from Irving and Franklin aloud, it could be difficult to identify the source, as both develop a muted sarcasm and rely heavily on irony to develop their narratives. Perhaps more surprising, however, is the fact that Irving is most indebted to the older tradition of Native American literature that he…

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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in General News


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