Washington Irving

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Authors and their themes/American literature

Washington Irving

Ralph Maltese

I always enjoyed reading Washington Irving.  To give the new nation a “cultural past,” he borrowed plots from old German folk tales and, with modification to plots, transplanted them to American settings.  Irving’s biography of George Washington is still a tremendous resource.

In Irving’s day, the Dutch influence was heavily felt in New York’s environs.  I always begin a unit on Irving by discussing who were the first white explores of the Hudson Valley region, what Native Americans already existed there, and what names are in New York which still reflect those cultures.

Sometimes, and definitely only after I made certain they read the short story, I would show them Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow cartoon.

For a deeper analysis of Irving’s themes, please see my article on this website under education….  Washington Irving and the Dumbing Down of America.



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