Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle


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These are things I remember from the first time I read Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” about eight years ago:

– Rip Van Winkle has quite the shrew for a wife. This is a fact that isn’t necessarily included in many of the children’s versions of the stories that are out there.  Rip easily accepts his twenty-year nap realizing that his wife died during this time. The story becomes both dark and funny at this point.

– Published in 1819, “Rip Van Winkle” gives lasting descriptions of the landscapes of a new world and new country.   Some of which may still exist today and some of which may not:

From an opening between the trees he could overlook all the lower country for many a mile of rich woodland. He saw at a distance the lordly Hudson, far, far below him, moving on its silent but majestic course, with the reflection of a purple cloud, or the sail of a lagging bark, here and there sleeping on its glassy bosom, and at last losing itself in the blue highlands.

These are things I did not remember from the first time I read “Rip Van Winkle”:

– The American Revolution occurred during Rip’s twenty-year nap.  This makes me curious about Washington Irving’s politics when writing the story.  However, this could simply be a comic device.  When I think about it, taking a nap and missing a revolution is hilarious.

-In a brilliant effect, the reader doesn’t realize Rip has been asleep until he wakes up – much like Rip himself.

If you have not read “Rip Van Winkle” I highly recommend it.  If you have read it, go ahead and read it again, it’s still great!

I read this story when I selected the Ace of Spades for Week 24 of my Deal Me In 2015 short story project.  My Deal Me In 2015 list can be seen here. Deal Me In 2015 is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.