Oct 9 2009

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Ichabod CraneBook reading sex-fecta (sounds dirty) for the week? Maybe. Many of the stories I’ve read this past week have been short. Today’s was very short. With the approach of Hallowe’en (I like that spelling), I thought it appropriate to read (possibly for the second time, can’t be sure) Washngton Irving‘s 1820 tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow“.

The story of poor preceptor Ichabod Crane, never gets old. I think most people are familiar with the Disney adaptation (1949) which tells Irving’s tale pretty faithfully. One difference I did notice however, is that the Headless Horseman in the story doesn’t have a jack-o-lantern head, but instead rides with his severed head mounted on the saddle’s pommel. Too macabre for Disney, or just not as theatrical? I also liked the way that Irving weaves the ghost story, finishing the tale with a healthy helping of doubt as to the events which actually occurred, but then admitting that he (the narrator) prefers the version told by “old country wives”. I enjoy ghost stories a great deal, but I think they’re made better when the truth of these events are left to the shadows of the reader’s imagination… that is where they are born and where they belong.

“The pedagogue’s mouth watered as he looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back, in a side dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living.”

4 out of 5