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Irving, Washington. "The Author's Account of Himself".


The story is introduced by Lyly's Euphues, saying that the traveller is forced to alter his mansion with his manners and to live where he can, not where he would.

The first person narrator explains that even as a boy he loved learning the unknown regions of his own city. Through travelling to neighbouring villages, he came to know its habits and customs. Travel books were his favourites. Of course he travelled his own country and he proudly describes its natural beauties.

Still he is tempted by Europe which accumulated the treasures of age which are absent in America. According to the works of philosophers, he believed to find "the great men of Europe" instead of the American "great man of the city". He believed the former must be superior to the latter. According to his reading, all animals and man among them degenerated in America.

However, he does not observe Europe with the eyes of a philosopher but rather with those of an admirer and humble lover. The sketches he wrote in Europe he thinks good in common details and persons, but lacking the truly great objects which should have been described. As an unlucky landscape-painter who has his sketchbook full of cottages and obscure ruins but there is no St. Peter's, or the Coliseum, or the bay of Naples, not a single glacier or volcano.



- a brief personal account rather than a fictional short story with plot, characters, etc.

- resembles a diary entry or an entry in a writer's notebook

- summarizes the development of the author's desire to travel

- especially explains the author's motives for travelling to Europe


  • Author

    Irving, Washington. (1783 - 1859).
  • Full Title

    "The Author's Account of Himself".
  • First Published

    In: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. NY: C. S. Van Winkle, 1819.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Irving, Washington. "The Author's Account of Himself". (1819). In: The Chief American Prose Writers. Ed. Norman Forster. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1916.


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