Rip Van Winkle Summary

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  Folk tale:   A folktale (also spelled folk tale) is a story or legend forming part of an oral tradition. Folktales are generally passed down from one generation to another and often take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told. Tale that belongs to the people; rougher than a fairy tale. The period from 1784 to 1865 was a time of both expansion and division in the United States. After winning their independence from Britain in the Revolutionary War, Americans gradually expanded their nation to the West. While America was expanding west, it also was divided between north and south. In the northern United States, many Americans opposed slavery and tried to restrict its spread or even outlaw it entirely. The southern states, on the other hand, had a primarily agricultural economy and depended heavily on slave labour. Despite attempts at compromise, 11 southern states eventually seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. In the American Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, the Confederate Army of the south--seeking its independence--fought against the North’s  Union Army. The American culture of this period showed the same hunger, confidence, and sense of adventure that characterized the westward migration. While western pioneers were exploring and settling the land, other Americans broke ground in the scientific, social, and artistic realms. This was also the age of temperance societies and utopian communities, Americans were reading more than they ever had and were witnessing important developments in the field of art. The world saw the emergence of several important American artists. American literature also developed in dramatic ways during this period. Like the colonial writers who had preceded them, the first writers largely followed British models. An early milestone in the history of a truly American literature came in 1819, when Washington Irving published the first instalments of The Sketch Book  . A year later, fellow New Yorker James Fenimore Cooper published his first novel. While the works of these two writers also looked British in many ways, their work demonstrated two important developments in American literature. First, each writer, particularly Cooper in his Leather-Stocking Tales, capitalized on American settings and American themes. Second, both Irving and Cooper were more than inferior proteges; rather, they were as talented as many of the English masters and even earned the respect of English readers. For the next two decades, American writers such as Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Edgar Allan Poe, and some others, produced scores of essays, nonfiction narratives, poems, short stories, and novels that formed a distinctive American literature. Much of this literature still showed signs of British or at least European influence.  The first great American writer of this period was Washington Irving, whose Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon , first published in 1819, was a sensation in England and helped build the United States' reputation for creative literature. Irving was the most famous and most widely respected literary figure in America. Thanks in part to developments in publishing technology, Irving also was one of the few Americans to make substantial money from writing. Irving somewhat ironically contributed to America's literary independence while producing work that was distinctively European in content and style. Irving proved that Americans could write European literature as well as Europeans could. His masterful use of personae , stylized prose , and use of European legend  all demonstrate the strong influence of the Old World on his work. Indeed, the sketches and tales in The Sketch Book   show Irving's affection for the antiquity of Europe and for the past  in general. Irving is a major figure in the history of the short story  in America. It is said that The Sketch book   was the starting point for this literary form in the United States. Another striking characteristic of Irving's writing is the preponderance of visual imagery . A painter himself, Irving often drew verbal pictures in his essays and stories, and the title of his most famous work makes a double reference to visual art: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon .
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