Washington Irving (1783-1859) ‘sRip Van Winkle American Literature I 01/11/2004 Cecilia H.C. Liu
Pre-Reading Questions • When Rip Van Winkle returned from Mt. Katskills, he seems to be confused about what had happened, can this sort of experience in any way similar to any stories you know? • Do you find the story in any way humorous or worth contemplating? How? • The segment in the story of how Rip Van Winkle was in the mountains has been illustrated rapidly, but the author, Washington Irving, focuses more on what happened after the story. How do you explain this sort of situation? • What was the historical situation of this story?
Who is Washington Irving? • His birth and death: 1783-1859 • A man with many associative occupations • A man shows extreme interests in: • The theater • Association with literary-minded young men in NYC • Traveling (including several trips up the Hudson and a 2-year excursion to Europe in 1804 & 1805).
Washington Irving’s Jobs • A practicing attorney for only a few years • 1810 -- joined two of his brothers in the hardware business. • Late 1812 -- the editor of the Analectic Magazine • Late 1814 -- an officer in the militia and to serve in the War of 1812. • In 1815 -- went to England to help with the failing family business. • 1815 – 1832; 1842 - 1846 – remained abroad • 1829 -1832 -- served as secretary to the American Legation in London. • In 1842 -1846 -- he was appointed U.S. Minister to Spain
The Plot : 3 Part Structure • Beginning– A portrayal of how Rip is a a hen-pecked husband, doesn’t take stands (430 par. 2-431 par. 2; B 982 par. 2- 983 par. 3) • Middle – Descriptions of Rip’s adventures into Katskills, an unexplained journey of himself (432 par. 4 – 434 par. 4; B 984 par. 4 – 986 par. 4) • End – His return to the village, and the beginning of him seeking for himself (434 par. 5- 439 par. 3; B 986 par. 5- 991 par. 3)
Character Analysis (1)-- Rip • After Rip has gone to the mountains, he has experienced several changes, and unable to return back to his old identities before he went, but completely lost it. • His dog is gone, which represents his alter ego (434 par. 5 and 435 par. 2; B 986 par. 5 and 987 par.2) • He could no longer return back to the amphitheatre, a similar concept in 桃花園記, suggests that the environment has changed. (434 par. 6; B 987 par. 1) • He has even found a crowd of new faces in the village, which he could not recognize. (435 par. 2-4; B 987 par. 2- 4)
Character Analysis (2)-- Rip • He even imitates the others, and is astonished to discover a beard on his own chin (435 par. 2-4; B 987 par. 2- 4) • He could conceive of how different the environment and others are, including fashions of clothing; his village, and his own house. (435 par. 4- 436 par. 1; B 987 par. 5 – 988 par. 1) • Rip found that what did not change was Mt. Katskills, but he could no longer return to it (435 par. 4; B 987 par. 4) • He has become a double, with biased personality, as suggested , "I'm not myself ... I can't tell what's my name, or who I am!"(437 par. 12; B 989 par.12)
The Climax and Solution • Identity of Rip Van Winkle has been gained or re-written into history in the Notesection of the work. • Rip Van Winkle has found back his own relatives and old acquaintances physically, or by name, but is still puzzled by the fact that 20 years has passed. • New Authorities has developed in the story, in the following areas: • The conclusion: self-important man’s return • The historian • Family and adjustment • Contradictory feelings about his wife and his identity, which is the most serious element.
The Literary in Context • Is the Narrative frames in the story used to establish credibility? • Beginning – • Knickerbocker's published history-- is known for its "scrupulous accuracy.“ More info. • Knickerbocker’s errors and follies as well as his imprint on New-Year cakes. • In the ending of the story, Irving includes the setting, witness account, certificate to make the story more believable.
Literary in Context (2) :The Techniques of the Story –Entrance into Mystery • The Introduction: • From present to past; the foot of the fairy mountains. • Talking to the dog and contemplating the landscape on a green knoll; (434 par. 2-4; B 986 par. 3-5) • Stranger – dress of antiquity; (433 par. 3; B 985 par. 3) • The amphitheatre (433 par. 4; B 985 par. 4) • Dutch alcohol back to the past?
In Literary Context (3) • The story itself represents its significance in U.S. Literary history, as well as national identity, bridging the gap from King George V to George Washington. • It also adds national colors (landscape, history, immigrants) to a German folklore, as where the story was taken from. • It also includes the sense of “national fantasy of escape” from responsibility.
In Literary Context (4) • The story itself depictsa dramatic incident as a formal skeleton, a sense of waking up from a long sleep but astonished. • The essay-sketch tradition As portrayed subtly in details within the first two paragraphs. • The story is also combined into a modern short-story form, developing the emergence of American RomanticNationalism, with myth and realism. Still, this story about the escape in a representation of America completely?
The Historical Situation of Rip Van Winkle • The story of “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) in U.S. Context; sets some time in between 1750 and 1799 • Before the Revolutionary war, NY is slow-pace and rural. • After 1783 the influx of New Englanders, also called Yankees, became a torrent that almost submerged the small Dutch settlements. More people immigrated to New York from New England than from anywhere else in the world. By 1820, many people began to joke that New York has become the colony of New England. • After 1779 – Tthe development of ‘Democracy’ and capitalism not without conflicts: Republicans had accused Federalists of being crypto royalists or unabashed "Tories"
Contradictions in the Story • Washington Irving himself has also escaped from the States for financial reasons, and does this imply anything that can relate him to Rip? • The story itself implies criticism of the America, and its democracy, which Washington Irving had to embrace. • The story has also made contradictory attempts to justify the author, Washington Irving’s escape to England or the European mythic past.
Knickerbocker’s Credibility • A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, with Knickerbocker named as the author. • This work is blatantly satirical, and presents Knickerbocker as humorously illogical, even foolish. New Yorker of Dutch descent
The Stranger as an Embodiment: Rip Van Winkle • The stranger actually represents Rip Van Winkle himself. • His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion—a cloth jerkin strapped round the waist—several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at the knees.” –Hendrick Hudson
Conclusion The story itself embodies historical changes but not escapism.
References • 李伯大夢》導讀--真與假的模糊地帶http://www.novel.idv.tw/text/comment_3.asp • "Family Resemblances: The Text and Contexts of 'Rip Van Winkle.'" • Blakemore, Steven. "Family Resemblances: The Text and Contexts of 'Rip Van Winkle.'" Early American Literature 35, no. 2 (2000): 187-207. • Rust, Richard D. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 74: American Short-Story Writers Before 1880. Ed. Bobby Ellen Kimbel, et al, Bowling Green State University. The Gale Group, 1988. pp. 171-188. • Evans, Walter. “Rip Van Winkle: Overview.” Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994 • "Washington Irving: `Rip Van Winkle.'“ Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them, Volume 1: Ancient Times to the American and French Revolutions (Prehistory-1790s). Ed. Joyce Moss and George Wilson, Gale Research, 1997.