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  • Published: 15 November 1983
  • ISBN: 9780940450141
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1144
  • RRP: $75.99

Washington Irving

Three Western Narratives (LOA #146)




Washington Irving’s career as a writer began obscurely at age seventeen, when his brother’s newspaper published his series of comic reports on the theater, theater-goers, fashions, balls, courtships, duels, and marriages of his contemporary New York, called Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. Written in the persona of an elderly gentleman of the old school, these letters captured his fellow townsmen at play in their most incongruous attitudes of simple sophistication. Irving’s next work, Salmagundi, written in collaboration with his brother William and James Kirke Paulding, and published at irregular intervals in 1805–06, continued this roguish style of satire and burlesque. 

A History of New York
, publicized by an elaborate hoax in the local newspapers concerning the disappearance of the elderly “Diedrich Knickerbocker,” turned out to be a wild and hilarious spoof that combined real New York history with political satire. Quickly reprinted in England, it was admired by Walter Scott and Charles Dickens (who carried his copy in his pocket). In later years, as Irving revised and re-revised his History, he softened his gibes at Thomas Jefferson, the Dutch, and the Yankees of New England; this Library of America volume presents the work in its original, exuberant, robust, and unexpurgated form, giving modern readers a chance to enjoy the version that brought him immediate international acclaim.

The Sketch Book
 contains Irving’s two best-loved stories, “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It also includes many sketches of English country and city life, as well as nostalgic portraits of vanishing traditions, like the old celebrations of Christmas. 

A writer of great urbanity and poise, acutely sensitive to the nostalgia of a passing age, Washington Irving was a central figure in America’s emergence on the international scene.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

  • Published: 15 November 1983
  • ISBN: 9780940450141
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1144
  • RRP: $75.99

About the author

Washington Irving

Washington Irving (1783 – 1859) was born into a rich New York family, the youngest of eleven children. He was named after the great future American President, George Washington. Young Washington's early education was patchy but he developed an early love for books and writing. As an adult he didn't have to worry about earning a living and after practising law for a few years he began to write for newspapers and magazines. His first book, Knickerbocker's History of New York (1809), was the first American humorous book which was also literature. It was a great success but Irving continued to be only a part-time writer.

In 1815 he moved to London to manage the British end of the family business and stayed for seventeen years. When the family business collapsed in 1817, He had to make a living for the first time. The immediate result was The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent which contained his two most famous fantasy stories, Rip van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. These classic stories have kept Washington Irving's name alive. He is often called 'the father of American literature' because of the charm and style of his writing and because he was always breaking new ground.

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Praise for Washington Irving

“The Library of America has published a volume of Washington Irving, and though I never intended to read it, I did glance through, and discovered the story of Rip Van Winkle. Rip sits down for a drink, and lo, next thing he knows, 20 years have passed. Just so with a reviewer who sits down for a glance at Washington Irving. One glance leads to several. Chapters slip past, then whole books (four of them appear in this volume), and finally the reviewer limps back to town, beard grown, hair wild, mumbling a crazily antiquated piece of news: Washington Irving is wonderful.” — Voice Literary Supplement

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