Monday, March 29, 2010

Creepy Classics: Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

In support of the many, phenomenal classic books written, I’ve decided to review some of the best classics of all time. Plan on seeing these reviews monthly in a series I’ve deemed Creepy Classics.

The first book on my Creepy Classics review list is Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Since written in the 1800s, Irving is considered one of celebrated early American writers. My curious nature led me to read this one first. It’s been too long since I cracked this book open and I was pleased I did.

Irving skillfully depicts an early American rural setting of a small Dutch town as the beginnings of his legendary story of the Headless Horseman. A master at fiction, Irving had me laughing several times when describing the classical character of Ichabod Crane. He’s the gangly nerdy schoolmaster who loves to sing and study about witches, legends and other mystical folklore. Ichabod, at first, is a true nerd at heart whom sets his sights on the town’s most eligible maiden, young Katrina Van Tassel. Ichabod sees Katrina as more of a lucrative match than anything else. And he’s not the only youngster vying for Katrina’s affection. Brom Bones , a beefy bachelor and polar opposite of Ichabod, is also in the running to win the fare maiden’s heart. And Ichabod’s no match for the fearless Bram Bones, but bless him because this loveable teacher still relentlessly tries. Although he’s no match for Bram, he uses his brain to create inopportune times to woo Ms. Van Tassel. And just when he believes he’s making headway with the damsel, Irving slams the door in our hero’s face.
I know it’s a bit jarring but, hey…it’s the truth. Irving spends all this time getting us sucked into Ichabod’s life. He’s a geek no doubt but as one reads on, you see a wonderful, spirited, lively character with a vision for a martial, prosperous life with Katrina. He’s the underdog and you so want him to succeed but, oh yeah, this is supposed to be a story about the headless horseman, right? Right! I say that because, while telling us this story, Irving takes you on this single man’s journey and masterfully plants hints of the ghostly legends. Everyone knows the story of the headless horseman but of course he doesn’t make an appearance until the very end. And what happens, he takes away our hero, Ichabod Crane.

This wonderfully written short story is what legends are made of. The suspense, the visual depiction of early American rural times, the dark, creepy town of Sleepy Hollow and our hero, the nerdy, lovable Ichabod Crane. If you haven’t had a chance to read this creepy classic, do so. It’s only a short story but just the same, it’s just shy of brilliant.

On the Mina Burrow’s kilometer, I give The Legend of Sleepy Hollow a 4.

Until next time...if you can't find something to read, read a Creepy Classic.

Mina B.


Rebecca said...

This is one of my favourites.... looking forward to reading it on Halloween. How do you think the film compares?

Mina Burrows said...

Hi Rebecca. I love the film - or anything Johnny Depp/Tim Burton, really. For me, Ichabod made the story and the movie.