THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a short story by American author Washington Irving.The Story was written while Irving was living abroad in Birmingham, England, and is among the earliest examples of enduring popular American fiction.
The story is set in 1790 in the countryside around the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (now historical Tarrytown, New York), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. A place renowned for its ghosts and haunting atmosphere. The most infamous spectre in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman, said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper who lost his head during a battle of the American Revolutionary War.
The tales protagonist, Ichabod Crane, is a lanky and extremely superstitious schoolmaster, who competes with Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and only child of wealthy farmer Baltus Van Tassel. The two vie for Katrina's hand, with Brom playing a series of pranks on the jittery schoolmaster. The tension between the three is brought to a head on a placid autumn night, at the harvest party. He dances, partakes in the feast, and listens to ghostly legends told by the locals, but his true aim is to propose to Katrina. His intentions, however, are ill-fated.
After departing the party, Ichabod rides home through the woods with a heavy heart. He passes several haunted spots, until he encounters a cloaked rider at an intersection in a putrid swamp. The teacher is horrified to discover that the riders head is not on his shoulders, but on his saddle. Ichabod rides for his life in a frantic race to the bridge, desperately goading his temperamental plow horse to gallop faster. To the pedagogue's horror, the ghoul clambers over the bridge, rears his horse, and hurls his severed head into Ichabod's terrified face.
The next morning, Ichabod has mysteriously disappeared from town, leaving Katrina to marry Brom Bones.
Excerpt from THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travels homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was as dismal as himself. Far below him the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking of the watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man. Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off, from some farmhouse away among the hillsbut it was like a dreaming sound in his ear. No signs of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in his bed.
All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and dismal.
He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the centre of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally known by the name of Major André's tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights, and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.
As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle; he thought his whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches. As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw something white, hanging in the midst of the tree: he paused and ceased whistling but, on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly he heard a groanhis teeth chattered, and his knees smote against the saddle: it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him
NOTES for THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
|"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by American author Washington Irving, contained in his collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Written while Irving was living abroad in Birmingham, England, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was first published in 1820. Along with Irving's companion piece "Rip Van Winkle", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is among the earliest examples of American fiction with enduring popularity.|
|From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by name of Sleepy Hollow ... A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow|
|A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,|
|Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;|
|And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,|
|Forever flushing round a summer sky.|
|CASTLE OF INDOLENCE.|
|The more spectral elements of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" were likely based on German folktales concerning "The Wild Huntsman", a ghoulish phantom that would chase interlopers through the woods at maddening speeds. Often this apparition was headless and its victims lacking in virtue or morality. Irving wrote The Sketch Book during a tour of Europe, and German ghost stories proved especially inspiring to his imagination. One particularly influential rendition of this folktale was recorded by the German folklorist Karl Musäus. Headless horsemen were staples of Northern European storytelling, featuring in German, Irish (e.g. Dullahan), Scandinavian (e.g. the Wild Hunt), and English legends. Decapitated riders were known to race through the countryside, heads tucked under their arms, followed by hordes of coal-black hounds with fiery tongues. Usually viewed as omens of ill-fortune for those who chose to disregard their apparitions, these specters found their victims in proud, scheming persons and characters with hubris and arrogance. Source: Wikipedia|
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