With these words, Washington Irving expresses the dilemma of every American artist in the nineteenth century. The Sketch-Book (1820-1) looks simultaneously towards audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, as Irving explores the uneasy relationship of an American writer to English literary traditions. He sketches a series of encounters with the cultural shrines of the parent nation, and in two brilliant experiments with tales transplanted from Europe creates the first
classic American short stories, 'Rip Van Winkle' and 'The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow'.
The result was not only a hugely successful travel book; it exerted a strong formative influence on American writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe to Henry James, and is well worth rediscovery in its own right today.
Based on Irving's final revision of his most popular work, this new edition includes comprehensive explanatory notes of The Sketch-Book's sources for the modern reader. In her introduction, Susan Manning suggests that the author forged a new idiom, the 'Literary Picturesque', to accommodate and turn to advantage his dilemma of dual literary allegiances.
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