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Rip Van Winkle by: Washington Irving

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by: Washington Irving

Introduction to Romantic Literature

Romanticism has very little to do with things popularly thought of as "romantic," although love may occasionally be the subject of Romantic art. Rather, it is an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world.

The American Romantics considered the possibilites of man's imagination, nature, symbolism and myth, individualism, and the everyday exotic.


The Devil and Tom Walker by: Washington Irving

American author, short story writer, essayist, poet, travel book writer, biographer, and columnist. Irving has been called the father of the American short story. He is best known for 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' in which the schoolmaster Ichabold Crane meets with a headless horseman, and 'Rip Van Winkle,' about a man who falls asleep for 20 years.

As an essayist Irving was not interested in the meaning of nature like Emerson or self-inspection like Montaigne. He observered the vanishing pasts of old Europe, the riverside Creole villages of Louisiana, the old Pawnee hunting grounds of Oklahoma, and how ladies fashion moves from one extreme to the other. 'Geoffrey Crayon' was his most prolific fictional mask. Irving once wrote: "There rise authors now and then, who seem proof against the mutability of language, because they have rooted themselves in the unchanging principles of human nature." He was the earliest literary figure of the American abroad, who appeared in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., in which also Irving's best-known story 'Rip Van Winkle' was included. It was based on a German folktale, set in the Dutch culture of Pre-Revolutionary War in New York State.