Washington Irving


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Washington Irving [pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon] (1783-1859), American essayist, historian, and author wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow";

They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head.

One of the first noted American authors to be highly acclaimed in Europe during his life time, Irving was a prolific author of fiction and non-. He wrote numerous short stories, biographies, histories, and tales of his travels. His characters Ichabod Crane and Rip van Winkle are now icons of popular American culture, and many of Irving's works have inspired adaptations to the stage and film.

Named in honour of American President George Washington, under whom the United States gained independence during the American Revolution, Washington Irving was born on 3 April 1783 in New York. He was the eleventh child born to emigrants Sarah Sanders and William Irving, deacon and successful merchant. The Irving's were kind, charitable people and often tended to those left less fortunate after the war. Washington, while born sickly, was a mischievous and adventuresome young man, sneaking out at night to attend plays and frustrating his pious parents, especially his father. He roamed the city and environs, dreaming of far-off places--dreams that were partly fueled by one of his favourite books, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Travelling would become a life-long passion. Although he was not an avid student, he studied law and became a clerk in Josiah Ogden Hoffman's law office. The Hoffmans would become great friends to Irving.

Suffering from ill-health off and on for many years, in 1804 Irving set sail from New York Harbour, the first of many trips abroad: he was going to a spa in Bordeaux, France to treat a lung ailment. He learned French and, always gregarious, made many friends who were charmed by his easy-going ways. For the next two years he travelled through many countries in Europe including France, the Netherlands, Spain, Scotland, Wales, and England. Ever the flâneur, he basked in the hospitality of sophisticated European society and indulged his love of art, theatre, and opera. But his Grand Tour was to come to an end when, in 1806 and restored health, he returned to America and was called to the bar.

Irving's social life continued to dominate his days. He was not interested in practicing law, preferring the companionship of his male friends and the flirtatious affections of ladies. In a foreshadowing of great things to come, he collaborated with his brother William and James Kirke Paulding in creating a semi-monthly periodical to compete with the more sombre news publications of the day. While it was short-lived The Salmagundi Papers; or, the Whim-Whams and Opinions of Laucelot Langstaff, Esq. And Others. (1809) was met with great success. The Jonathan Swift-like satire and tongue-in-cheek pokes at politics, culture, and society was "to instruct the young, reform the old, correct the town, and castigate the age." In a similar vein Irving composed his first novel, Knickerbocker's History of New York (1809). A burlesque and comprehensive weaving of fact and fiction, his "History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty" is narrated by Diedrich Knickerbocker and won Irving much acclaim at home and abroad.

During the War of 1812, Irving was beset with ennui. Initially he had begrudgingly enlisted but his patriotism flared with the burning of the capitol; he also served as governors' aid and military secretary for a time. In 1815 he left America for England to visit his brother but remained for the next seventeen years, again travelling to various countries in Europe. While in England, an unsuccessful business venture with his brothers caused him to turn to his pen in hopes of providing some income. Irving's short stories, first printed in America under his pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon between the years 1819-20 were collected in The Crayon Papers and The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. They contain two of Irvings' most famous tales: "Rip van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". These stories were wildly popular in America and soon too in Europe where Irving, or, Geoffrey Crayon, was welcomed by noted society and literary figures including actors, writers, artists, Dukes, and Lords, Kings and Queens. Positive reviews were published and Charles Dickens, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord George Gordon Byron, and his friend Sir Walter Scott lauded his humorous and witty style.

Irving's health failed again and for many months he was unable to walk, but it did not stop him from continuing to write. His next novel was Bracebridge Hall, or, The Humorists, A Medley (1822). It was followed by Tales of a Traveller (1824), which Irving considered one of his finer works. In 1826 Irving moved to Madrid, Spain, where he set to writing his highly lauded The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828), Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada (1829), and Tales of the Alhambra (1832).

In 1832 Irving returned to America, greeted by his overwhelmingly adoring readership. With the intent of creating a secluded retreat for writing, he bought a farm on the banks of the Hudson River at Tarrytown in New York State. The little Dutch cottage and the picturesque views was soon transformed into the now famous residence "Sunnyside". Irving the bachelor was surrounded by loving friends and relatives, and apart from his sojourn as Minister to Spain in 1842-48, his days of living abroad were over.

Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey (1835) was followed by Astoria: Anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains (1836). "....I have felt anxious to get at the details of their adventurous expeditions among the savage tribes that peopled the depths of the wilderness." It explores Irving's impressions from travels in Canada and America as guest of John Jacob Astor's Northwest Fur Company. Irving expresses his sympathy to the displaced, and dispossessed 'savage' Native American Peoples in such stories as "Philip of Pokanoket", "Traits of Indian Character", and "Origin of the White, the Red, and the Black Men". The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837) was followed by Irving's biographical works Oliver Goldsmith: A Biography (1850) and Lives of Mahomet and his Successors (1850). Wolfert's Roost and Miscellanies (1855) includes short stories first published in Knickerbocker Magazine. Irving's last finished work, something he had been working on for many years but kept putting aside for other more pressing projects is his Life of George Washington (1859). Washington Irving died on 28 November 1859 and now rests in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery overlooking the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown, New York.

Panting and fatigued, he threw himself, late in the afternoon, on a green knoll, covered with mountain herbage, that crowned the brow of a precipice. From an opening between the trees he could overlook all the lower country for many a mile of rich woodland. He saw at a distance the lordly Hudson, far, far below him, moving on its silent but majestic course, with the reflection of a purple cloud, or the sail of a lagging bark, here and there sleeping on its glassy bosom, and at last losing itself in the blue highlands.--from "Rip van Winkle"

Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

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Over the weekend, as a Halloween or Autumn gift or maybe because she was just being her own sweet self, one of my daughters gave me a new copy of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." As a writer, Washington Irving (1783-1859) was enormously popular in his own lifetime, a literary superstar of the day. His influence on American culture has been under-rated. For instance, the American customs surrounding the celebration of Christmas can be attributed as much to Irving's description of the holiday spent abroad in an English household as to our appreciation and nostalgia for the Victorian customs described in Dickens. Irving made great contributions to the American language. Few if any of the fans of the New York Knicks NBA team realize that the term "Knickerbocker" came from one of Washington Irving's pseudonyms. Washington Irving is a favorite in my neck o' the woods. Though born in New York City, there are sites and various tourists attractions ("traps") in the Hudson River Valley capitalizing on Washington Irving's fame There really is a geographic place called "Sleepy Hollow," near Tarrytown, just north of New York City. There are other places in this corridor. He had a home near Kinderhook, NY, also the birthplace of one -- though clearly not the best --of the American Presidents, Martin van Buren. There are at least two schools that I know of around here named in honor of Washington Irving. Since the publication of "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the name "Ichabod" has been associated with a cowardly, perhaps ineffectual teacher, a "pedagogue." But apparently did not stop a nearby school district from adopting the name Ichabod Crane. A minor character in that story, "Katrina" has now, so sadly, a name that will forever be associated with abject tragedy, the horrible Gulf Coast hurricane of 2005. The 1999 movie "Sleepy Hollow" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0162661/ bears little correlation with the original story, save for the main character's name (played by Johnny Depp) and the general geographical setting. I'm not a great horror movie fan, but the movie isn't all that bad. It's not Washington Irving's original story, though. Joyce Carol Oates-- who the last I heard teaches at McGill Univ. in Canada-- has written numerous, I mean plenty of novels, but I prefer her critical writing to her novels. I bring up Joyce because she once edited an anthology of the greatest American short stories and included "Rip Van Winkle" among them. She writes of Irving's characters: ". . .so deeply imprinted have they become in the popular imagination, they strike us as mythopoetic figures -- timeless, archetypal, transcending the circumstances of their own creation." Amen to that. Aunt Shecky


The gentle person had the luck, because they had to withstand the farmland.

Western Liang evil portents: Please forgive me such late only then to give you to reply in writing, I receive your letter, actually did not know how should start writing, slowly cannot write. Then I now start to say, in fact, I am a Christian, to the present all is since childhood, only is, saw the church, saw clearly the society, returned to the heart of hearts, I to God's idea thorough change, this probably am two year-old matters, afterwards, Buddhism has come in, the new thought sent, various religion has all come in, I gradually formed one kind "the world religion" the concept, with Newton, praised, Einstein they believed such. First do I chat the life, how the life appear on the Earth, how lucky chance formed had the cell nucleus, the protein life, was the creation or evolves? Darwin's theory of evolution publishes the present for more than 100 years, already confirmed has many mistakes and the fallacy, these for ten thousand years, have any monkey to turn the person? Lifeless can have the life, before some people have raised, the science proof nine centuries experiments, lifeless is cannot have the life. Then, how the life does come, how goes, all is an extremely difficult solution riddle. After the analogy I died, my body matter changes other matter, then my life? Is vanishes? Or turns another life? Or these only some times arrived the nature to know? This is extremely complex. China is the letter atheism, I in find "the pantheism" in hundred, "Jesus Christ", "God", but "atheism", speech many, word extremely broad, all is extremely absurd laughable, I am very clear general "the materialism", is superficial, the true materialism is not such, I am not the mechanism, asks you to understand. I understood your mind worried, struggles, looks, anticipated, you longed for and I share your mind, but I such mention Buddhism according to the tradition with you, the samsara, the extremely happy world, please forgive my careless, after I must first tell you the official view, then tells you me the idea, then you hear the view which repeats ideas after everybody, very disappointed left. I acknowledged my mistake, requested your forgiving, and asks you to have the patience downward to look? Tathagata is our original appearance, reads "salutes Amida Buddha" six characters only reminds us, did not roam about, hurried to go home, returns to the oneself chastest that kind of appearance. However, who can read is not wholeheartedly chaotic, who can continuously read the integer year, actually a minute delusion also does not have? The answer is firmly, has, are very few, therefore to the limit happy world, but also must practice moral culture, but also must accumulate good deeds, but also must make very many very many matters, however, you know in fact, how many goods regardless of we have made, how many Buddha number read, how many Confucian classicses has printed, how many people helps, these all add, actually does not compare the wickedness which the person creates, even if is a good person, he creates the wickedness, far surpasses the friendliness which he does, this you understand? He because the natural disposition violates crime, as a result of selfishness injury person, because ignorantly spreads out the delusion which sends, because arrogantly creates pain, but also some many many, said seven years, two ten thousand 5,000 days, humanity's primitive desire may destroy how many universes! The Dostoyevsky base once said that, "If does not have God, person anything may do!" In his novel proposed the question, did not know the puzzled how many people, simultaneously, his novel mentioned explanation, also has provided the infinite hope, that is: "Redeems"! The present society is more and more chaotic, each people all because receive tempt, but causes the crossflow, the morals to perish. The present China, everybody only believe "the money to teach", perhaps Taiwan, is "the Taiwan independence teaches", perhaps Japan, is "new Fascist teaches", perhaps US, is "the collection imperialism colonialism feudalism teaches to a body Satan", I thought, this world very few people understood "the love" this character. Only the love, loves oneself, also loves the others, is willing to accept others' pain, is willing to kiss others' mind, is willing to listen attentively to others' weeping sound, is willing to help others' helpless, only has enters the others, enters the crowd, knows the people, loves the others, the picture likes oneself being same, own do not injure oneself, looks after oneself, also does not injure the others, looks after the others, such talented person is saved, only then is hopeful, only then has the rebirth. We in world, either six eight, either seven one, either eight four, either eight six, if can the positive help person, for the society more than 1. gentle, for world more than 1. gentle, friendly many, wicked few, construct many, destroys few, laughs heartily many, tears also many, lets everybody all is the child, all is the friend, our world only then is hopeful, such person, already was doing, will not use and so on the next life, will not use and so on the very remote future, already "eternal"! Does not need to say the Buddha Bodhisattva comes to see him, all people all love him, all universes strength all helps him, such person and the eternal is a companion of, from morning until evening accompanies, forever will not have separates, as for the plate, will achieve Buddhahood, what final trial will be able to have the judgement day perhaps? Let these be preposterous! Discards these! Forgot these! All throws these mechanical impressions after the brain, is willing to love oneself, loves the others, loves all all living things, even loves God, only has "the love", only has "the love" to be able to redeem, only has "the love" to be able the eternal, believes oneself, starts from you, to start to change oneself, from present this moment, you will start to love oneself, is willing to like the others picture loving oneself, is willing to face the eternal, such love will exist forever . Believes me, I have had been through repeatedly the misery, I am willing to love, thereupon I have come, this strength very strong, may be slow also may be quick, it will help you facing any misery, any worry, any setback, only will have the love will be cannot vanish. You said just has experienced a love, prays for heavenly blessing you, I believed you can have more love, wishes your morning greetings. Chen Paida 2006/8/18


Washington Irving.... When WAS he born?

I've read almost every biography I can get my hands on.... and not a SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAS SAID WHEN HE WAS BORN! it would be like, THE GREATEST favor of all time if you could help me out asap~


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