About the Author
Blake A. Hoena grew up in central Wisconsin, where he wrote stories about robots conquering the moon and trolls lumbering around the woods behind his parents house. He now lives in Minnesota and continues to write about fun things like space aliens and superheroes. Blake has written more than fifty chapter books and graphic novels for children.
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Of Sleepy Hollow
Found Among ThePapers of The
A pleasing land of drowsy-head it was,Castle of Indolence
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye,
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
For ever flushing round a summer sky.
In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market-town or rural port which by some is called Greensburg, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days by the good housewives of the adjacent country from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on marketdays. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose, and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.
I recollect that when a stripling my first exploit in squirrel-shooting was in a grove of tall walnut trees that shades one side of the valley. I hadwandered into it at noontime, when all Nature is peculiarly quiet, and was startled by the roar of my own gun as it broke the Sabbath stillness around and was prolonged and reverberated by the angry echoes. If ever I should wish for a retreat whither I might steal from the world and its distractions and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.
From the listless repose of the place and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoat and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.
The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the countryfolk hurrying along in the gloom of night as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.
Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country firesides by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure in a little time to inhale the witching influence of the air and begin to grow imaginative -- to dream dreams and see apparitions.
I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the great State of New York, that population, manners, and customs remain fixed, while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved. They are like those little nooks of still water which border a rapid stream where we may see the straw and bubble riding quietly at anchor or slowly revolving in their mimic harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the passing current.The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Copyright © by Washington Irving. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
The schoolmaster A ghost story The final joke The headless horseman The new legend.
Reading Group Guide
1. Why does Iriving call this collection The Sketch Book? What effect is he trying to achieve with the preponderance of visual imagery?
2. How do the stories in The Sketch Book inform one another and function one another and function as a collection? How do the stories set in America--"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle"--distinguish themselves from Geoffrey Crayon's vignettes about his travels in England?
3. Alice Hoffman says in her Introduction that Irving is thought to have created the short-story genre in America. What constitutes a short story, and what are the hallmarks of the American short story? How does it break with its European predecessors yet still work within tradition?
4. Why do you think Washington Irving uses the writing and narration of the fictional Diedrich Knickerbocker (the pen name he used in writing his famous spoof A History of New York) to bookmark "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"? What effect does this have on the story itself? does it lend credulity or only make it more fantastic?
5. The poem that Irving quotes at the outset of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"--"The Castle of Indolence" by James Thomson--recounts the story of an enchanter who deprives all who enter his castle of their free will and their resolve. Why do you think Irving chose this particular poem? How does it inform your reading of the story?
6. How is this story influenced by the gothic literary tradition that preceded it, and how--in its setting, mood, plot, and message--does it embrace the gothic itself?
7. How has the village of Sleepy Hollow been affected or,conversely, unaffected by the American Revolution? In what context does the narrator refer to it?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a legend of a headless horesman that terrorizes the town, Sleepy Hollow. Shortly after Ichabod Crane comes to Sleepy Hollow, appoints himself the new headmaster, and makes a new life for himself, he began to fancy a woman named Katrina. He went through many struggles to get her attention over the likes of other possible suiters in town. But eventually Crane encountered the headless horseman, after which he disappeared. This story would be fun to read during Halloween time or a great example of a legend.
Will Moses does an outstanding job of re-telling this timeless classic for children. Beautiful folk art fills every page and lures even the youngest child to delight in one of Washington Irving's best loved tales about a schoolteacher in a sleepy little town who has an unexpected encounter with the legendary Headless Horseman!