Diedrich Knickerbocker

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Diedrich Knickerbocker
Washington Irving created a pseudo historian for the purpose of bettering his own work and to entertain his readers. In 1809 Irving wrote "A History of New York" through a persona known as Diedrich Knickerbocker. This was Knickerbocker's first appearance in Irving's work, but it sure wouldn't be his last. Although he was not real, Knickerbocker was a historian that seemed to be in love with the people and landscape of the northeast, particularly New York. Even though Irving never revealed it, some of his characteristics may be found within Knickerbocker's writing.

Washington Irving was born in New York City in 1783, he always had an appreciation of the land and people from there. Irving was quite opposed to the fact that New York was becoming and would become one of the biggest and most prominent cities in the entire world. Irving seemed to be fonder of the lush foliage and the rolling hills of the city, rather than a crowded city and huge port. Irving conveys his beliefs through Knickerbocker in "A History of New York," in the essay Irving says "Happy would it have been for New Amsterdam could it always have existed in this state of blissful ignorance and lowly simplicity, but alas! the days of childhood are too sweet to last! Cities, like men, grow out of them in time, and are doomed alike to grow into the bustle, the cares, and miseries of the world." (Irving 570). Irving believed that his New York would not be the same if it was given all of the exporting and importing power in the east, which it was and is not the way he wished it was.

Irving also had a fond feeling for the early Dutch settlers in New York, from Henry Hudson and his men, to stories of Dutch origin in New York. A few of these stories "were told to Knickerbocker" by Dutch settlers, one of which was "Rip Van Winkle," a story of a man who fell asleep for 20 years only to wake up to radical changes. Another story that was "found among the papers of Diedrich...
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