Washington Irving was relatively quiet after his years of law school until he embarked on a seventeen year expedition through Europe in 1815. During his travels, he met he English writers who would be most influential on him and his writings. The group consisted of Joseph Addison, Oliver Goldsmith, and Sir Walter Scott. One of his earliest works was published under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon in 1819, The Sketch Book. Included in this work of art were two American tales which he is probably best known for, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. Through his writings, Irving composes two different types of stories. His realistic stories, for example, The Alhambra, are one of these types, which objectively seeks to deal with real places, events, or persons. The second type of stories are impressionist stories, which are tales that shape and give meaning to the narrator. They are less objective and more subjective, giving them less of a realistic point. An example of this is Rip Van Winkle, a story about a man who runs from his abusive wife and finally gets away and falls asleep, for twenty years. Other stories Irving accounts for, are: Bracebridge Hall, Tales of a Traveler, History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, A Chronicle of Granada, The Crayon Miscellany, Astoria, Bonneville, and concludes with The Life of Washington. The reason his stories are considered “romantic,” most likely has to do with the new style of writing coming to America. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is read to children because it is a funny satirical story of a man who scorns the children he teaches, and it is likely that most kids can relate to the story. Irving is considered the first successful professional writer in America, and he was also the first American writer to win the respect of the British critics.
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