Sketch Book

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Familiar essays and tales by Irving, written under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., published serially in the U.S. (1819–20) and in book form in England (1820). Its genial humor and graceful style made it successful both in the U.S. and abroad, where American authors were not yet recognized. Most of the sketches concern his observations as an American visitor in England (e.g. “Westminster Abbey,” “The Christmas Dinner,” “Stratford-on-Avon,” “John Bull,” and “The Stage-Coach”), but six chapters deal with American scenes. Of these “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are adaptations of German folk tales to the New York backgrounds of Diedrich Knickerbocker; “English Writers of America” opposes the criticisms of the U.S. by British tourists; “Traits of Indian Character” is a romantic defense of the American tribes; “Philip of Pokanoket” is an account of King Philip; and “The Angler” is a whimsical self-exposure of the author as preferring to read Izaak Walton rather than pursue the art of angling in person.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Washington Irving (1783—1859) American writer

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