- The origins of fiction and American identity: a comparison of Irving and Cooper -
In this assignment I am going to focus on the origin of American fiction and specifically, I am going to talk about two famous authors who are characteristic of this type of literature. The purpose of this essay is comparing these two writers through their works: Rip Van Winkle and The last of the Mohicans. These writers are Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper.
Washington Irving was born on 1783 (Manhattan) and he is consider as “the father of American fiction” and the creator of the short story. Irving did multiple travels to the “Old Continent”, maybe because of that it is said that his literature is Europeanized. But his most famous and well-known works are: The legend of sleepy Hollow (1820) and Rip Van Winkle (1819). As Irving is the creator of the short story, Cooper is considered as the father of the novel and therefore one of the creators of the American fiction. His most successful work is The last of the Mohicans (1826).
The first thing we can appreciate once we read The last of the Mohicans and Rip Van Winkle is that the first one is a novel, and the second one is a tale. It is a clear divergence basically because of the stories’ duration.
Also, we have an evident difference between them: the realism and fantasy. Irving uses on Rip Van Winkle a fantastic way to tell the tale, which means; we can see a mysterious and mystic atmosphere in the forest: [As he was about to descend, he heard a voice from a distance, hallooing, “Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!” He looked around, but could see nothing but a crow winging its solitary flight across the mountain.] Or when Rip Van Winkle finds an amphitheatre in the Catskill Mountains, where there are people dressing with strange clothes: [On entering the amphitheater, new objects of wonder presented themselves. On a level spot in the center was a company of odd-looking personages playing at ninepins....
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