Tag: Rip Van Winkle

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Posted December 14, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Horror / 0 Comments

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington IrvingTitle: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Goodreads)
Author: Washington Irving
Published: Tor, 1820
Pages: 96
Genres: Classic, Horror
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Most people know the story of Sleepy Hollow, we have probably seen a movie or the TV show. But how accurate are these adaptations to the book? The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is probably Washington Irving’s best known short story. Appearing in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent along with the story that is often a companion to Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow tells the story of Ichabod Crane in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town and his encounters with the Headless Horseman.

There are many pop culture references to the Headless Horseman as well as adaptations. I remember Tim Burton directing a movie adaptation starting Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci and of course the more recent TV show. Although I cannot think of one reference or adaptation that seemed to get the story right. For starters, the TV show likes to portray Ichabod Crane as a gentleman (although a turncoat) but I got a very different experience in Washington Irving’s short story. I found Ichabod Crane to be a greedy character that wanted everything; from riches to notoriety.

The story is told as an investigation into the supernatural, trying to unlock the legend of the Headless Horseman. This worked really well, Washington Irving had a great ability in creating an atmosphere. As a reader I felt like I could picture everything he was writing and it really helped set the tension. Irving wrote beautiful words and combining this with the atmosphere, I felt myself fully immersed in the settlement of Tarry Town.

Having said that, the plot did not really go anywhere and it felt like it was over before it really got started. I think this story could have done with more pages, allowing to build the plot and characters in greater detail. There are some interesting themes of wealth, nature and truth but for the most part I felt it was lacking. I like the way Washington Irving wrote and I am glad that I finally know the story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow now, even if it was just an average tale.