The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, 1820 Continue reading
The November stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.
- ‘Chickamauga’ by Ambrose Bierce
- ‘Paul’s Case’ by Willa Cather
- ‘The Veldt’ by Ray Bradbury
- ‘The Story Of An Hour’ by Kate Chopin
- ‘Of This Time, Of That Place’ by Lionel Trilling
- ‘The Nose’ by Nikolai Gogol
- ‘A White Heron’ by Sarah Orne Jewett
- ‘A Circle In The Fire’ by Flannery O’Connor
- ‘Going For A Beer’ by Robert Coover
- ‘Two Thanksgiving Gentlemen’ by O. Henry
- ‘Dawn Of Remembered Spring’ by Jesse Stuart
- ‘The Middle Years’ by Henry James
- ‘The Catbird Seat’ by James Thurber
- ‘The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story’ by Joel Chandler Harris
- ‘The Peach Stone’ by Paul Horgan
- ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ by Jorge Luis Borges
- ‘An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving’ by Louisa May Alcott
- ‘Who Lived And Died Believing’ by Nancy Hale
- ‘The Devil And Tom Walker’ by Washington Irving
- ‘The Facts Concerning The Recent Carnival Of Crime In Connecticut’ by Mark Twain
The Devil And Tom Walker by Washington Irving, 1824
The magic trick:
Calling into question early on the veracity of the story
The history of American literature is rooted in oral storytelling. Irving, of course a very important part of those roots, makes sure to establish “The Devil And Tom Walker” in a faux-oral tradition. Irving alternates between a third-person omniscient narration and the voice of a neighborhood storyteller.
The key moment comes when he discusses the disappearance of Tom Walker’s wife. He writes: “What her real fate nobody knows, in consequence of so many pretending to know.” The story, at this point, is no longer simply a scary tale or even Christian allegory. The story becomes about storytelling, the way communities pass on their own myths and history. And that’s quite a trick on Irving’s part.
The most current and probable story, however, observes, that Tom Walker grew so anxious about the fate of his wife and his property, that he set out at length to seek them both at the Indian fort. During a long summer’s afternoon he searched about the gloomy place, but no wife was to be seen. He called her name repeatedly, but she was nowhere to be heard.