Sunday, October 9, 2011

Halloween Spooktacular: Legend of Sleepy Hollow


Information courtesy of Wikipedia

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by Washington Irving contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., written while he was living in Birmingham, England, and first published in 1820. With Irving's companion piece "Rip Van Winkle", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is among the earliest examples of American fiction still read today.


The story is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of Tarry Town (based on Tarrytown, New York), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. It tells the story of Ichabod Crane, a lean, lanky, and extremely superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt, the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel. As Crane leaves a party he attended at the Van Tassel home on an autumn night, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, who is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during "some nameless battle" of the American Revolutionary War, and who "rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head". Ichabod mysteriously disappears from town, leaving Katrina to marry Brom Bones, who was "to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related". Although the nature of the Headless Horseman is left open to interpretation, the story implies that the Horseman was really Brom Bones in disguise and some readers assume that Brom murdered him.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was based on a German folktale, set in the Dutch culture of Post-Revolutionary War in New York State. The original folktale was recorded by Karl Musäus. An excerpt of Musäus:

The headless horseman was often seen here. An old man who did not believe in ghosts told of meeting the headless horseman coming from his trip into the Hollow. The horseman made him climb up behind. They rode over bushes, hills, and swamps. When they reached the bridge, the horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton. He threw the old man into the brook and sprang away over the treetops with a clap of thunder.

The dénouement of the fictional tale is set at the bridge over the Pocantico River in the area of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground in Sleepy Hollow. The characters of Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel may have been based on local residents known to the author. The character of Katrina is thought to have been based upon Eleanor Van Tassel Brush, in which case her name is derived from that of Eleanor's aunt Catriena Ecker Van Tessel.

Irving, while he was an aide-de-camp to New York Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins, met an army captain named Ichabod Crane in Sackets Harbor, New York during an inspection tour of fortifications in 1814. He may have borrowed the name from the captain and patterned the character in "The Legend" after Jesse Merwin, who taught at the local schoolhouse in Kinderhook, further north along the Hudson River, where Irving spent several months in 1809.

The story was the longest one published as part of The Sketch Book, which Irving issued using the pseudonym "Geoffrey Crayon" in 1820.

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" follows a tradition of folk tales and poems involving a supernatural wild chase, including Robert Burns's Tam O' Shanter (1790),and Bürger's Der wilde Jäger, translated as The Wild Huntsman(1796).

So have you read this wildly famous tale or have you watched the movie? If so which did you prefer the Movie or the book? Was it scary ? I have to say I haven't read the book but I have been wanting to for a very long time. I have seen Johnny Depp's version and I did love that movie. Remember all comments count as extra entries.


Amy said...

I have not read the book nor seen the movie. However, it sounds really scary. Even "Sleepy Hallow" sounds creepy enough.


June M. said...

I have seen the movie but have not read the original book. I have read some short stories based on the story when I was a kid. I do like the story though, and will have to read the original book one of these days.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Rachel said...

I've always loved this tale, but who can resist the movie with yummy Johnny Depp?!? Hmmmm.....

miki said...

I've heard of this tale yes and see some adaptations but i haven't read the book and didn't see the film with Jonny Depp


Carol L. said...

I actually read the book when I was much younger in school. I loved the movie with Johnny Depp.
The book is always better I think and as a kid it was scary to me. Thanks for the post and the info, some of which I never knew.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Ollie said...

I remember watching the Johnny Depp movie version but it seems like a blur to me but the one that stands out is the Walt Disney cartoon version I watched when I was a kid. Now that was good. :)

Thanks for this giveaway


Ollie aka DarkBloodyVamp

Unknown said...

I have not read the story, but I saw the movie. Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci were awesome and I thought it was scary. Just not horror story scary.

LorettaLynn//Temprance said...

I havent read the book, but i do think it would be really good:)
The books in all cases most the time are better then the movies, because you get to chose what someone looks like and how they are.You know what i mean?I have watched the movie and i really do like it, i was just talking about it last
loved the post

Vivien said...

This is my favorite legend. So originally spooky. And yes, only Johnny Depp can do it justice.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

donnas said...

This is one of my favorites. I did read the book once but it was so long ago and I dont really remember if I liked it better. The Johnny Depp movie was great. And I love the cartoon as well.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Na said...

I remember watching the movie and reading the book. I liked the story better because I built my own scarier images. I think I should watch it again for old time's sake.

Cambonified (at) yahoo (dot) com

Denise Z said...

I have read the book, but never watched the movie; just could not get into it. Maybe I should look it up again and give it another shot in a different frame of mind LOL Thank you for sharing today.


Anne said...

I don't think I've read the original version, just various children's versions. I've seen several tv versions and I had a VHS copy of the Johnny Depp film which I really like.

Unknown said...

I haven't read the book but the movie rocked. Then again, how can you go wrong with Johnny Depp??


Texas Book Lover said...

I haven't read the book but have seen the movie which was great! Maybe I should read it. Who am I kidding there are too many other things on my list to read to fit that in!

mmafsmith at gmail dot com

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