Irving, Washington. "Rip Van Winkle".
The story is introduced by a poem by Cartwright which celebrates the importance of truth.
It is set in the Catskill Mountains. The protagonist Rip Van Winkle is a simple, good-natured, but lazy man. He is henpecked and his only answer to Dame Van Winkle's quarrelling is shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head. His only companion in the house is the dog Wolf. When driven from home by his wife, he either attends a session on a bench before a small inn with a portrait of His Majesty George III, or he takes his gun and goes to the forest to shoot squirrels.
Once when he is in the forest, he hears his name pronounced and sees a strange man coming to him with a keg full of liquor on his back. He is dressed in the antique Dutch fashion. Without speaking, Rip Van Winkle helps the man with the keg, and they climb higher in the mountains. They come to a hollow in the mountains where a group of bearded men sit and play a game of ninepins. They are all dressed in the same strange outlandish fashion. Rip Van Winkle is shown to wait upon the company. He however drinks of their liquor and falls into a deep sleep.
On waking up, he looks for the hollow in the mountains, but the glen through which he went with the stranger is now filled by a stream. He returns to his village. Though he used to know everyone in the village, he meets only strangers. His house went to decay, there is only a half-starved dog resembling Wolf that does not recognize him and barks at him. The inn is gone, too. A new thing is a pole with a flag of stars and stripes. There is a man preaching about the rights of citizens, elections, members of congress, liberty, and the heroes of seventy-six. When he is asked who he is, Rip Van Winkle says he is a loyal subject of the King. He is held for a Tory.
There is a man leaning against the tree, a precise counterpart of himself before he went to the mountains. It comes out that it is his son, young Rip Van Winkle. He finds his daughter who takes him to her home. It is now twenty years since he went to the mountains and since his dog came without him. Meanwhile the revolutionary war took place.
Rip Van Winkle tells the villagers his story. His narrative is confirmed by and old man who explains that Hendrick Hudson, the discoverer of the river Hudson, keeps a vigil here every twenty years to revisit the scenes of his enterprise. There is a party in their old Dutch dresses playing at ninepins in a hollow of the mountain, and the sounds of their balls is to be heard like distant peals of thunder. It is the very sound which Rip Van Winkle heard himself when journeying with the stranger up to the mountains.
Rip Van Winkle's story is now known word by word by everyone in the neighbourhood and it serves as a common wish for all henpecked husbands.
In a postscript, the narrator claims that the story he related is beyond the possibility of doubt, he himself believes it fully. Signed "D.K."
- Irving claimed this story to be transcribed from papers of late Diedrich Knickerbocker
- a hoax: the author claims himself free of all responsibility for the improbable story by pretending that he only relates what he heard from someone else
AuthorIrving, Washington. (1783 - 1859).
Full Title"Rip Van Winkle".
First PublishedIn: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. NY: C. S. Van Winkle, 1819.
Irving, Washington. "Rip Van Winkle". (1819). In: The Chief American Prose Writers. Ed. Norman Forster. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1916.