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American Gothic in Sleepy Hollow, Ligeia and They Got a Hell of a Band

American Gothic in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Poe’s Ligeia and Stephen King’s You Know They Got a Hell of a Band

America is haunted, by headless horsemen and bloody battles, by addiction and a self gratifying obsession with immortality. America has a long-standing tradition with the gothic, and some of our most widely recognized authors, such as Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and Stephen King, a more recent author borrowed from popular literature, utilize it frequently if not wholly in their writing. The gothic is an intrinsic part of our national identity, inhabiting our folklore, our literature, and influencing the way in which we view our celebrities and ultimately, ourselves.

In his commentary on the gothic, Nightmare on Main Street, Mark Edmunson offers his take on the relationship between national identity and the form:

Unsentimental, enraged by gentility and high-mindedness, skeptical about progress in any form, the Gothic mind is antithetical to all smiling American faiths. A nation of ideals, America has also been, not surprisingly, a nation of hard disillusionment, with a fiercely reactive Gothic Imagination. (4-5)

There is much to American Gothicism. It lies deeply in the conscious awareness of the culture. Its roots are as diverse as the witch trials and the knowledge that one race of people committed genocide against another in order to obtain the land where our most illustrious universities and homogenous strip malls now sit. The character of America is in itself a gothic one. We hold aloft one set of ideas about freedom and equality, while graciously looking the other way when the savage hypocrisy that keeps the daily functions of life on an even keel rears its ugly …

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…st beneath the surface of our every day realities.

Works Cited

Edmunson, Mark. Nightmare on Main Street. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Lauter, Paul, et al., eds. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Vol 1. New York: Haughton Mifflin Co., 1997.

Irving, Washington. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Lauter et al. 1354-1373.

Poe, Edgar Allan. “Ligeia.” Lauter et al. 1450-1461.

Ringe, Donald A. American Gothic: Imagination and Reason in Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Lexington KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1982.

Savoy, Eric. “The Face of the Tenant: A Theory of American Gothic.” American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative. Ed. Robert K. Martin et al. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1998. 3-19.

White, Craig. Lecture. University of Houston-Clear Lake. Clear Lake, TX, 6 March. 2001

The Changing of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Changing of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

“Once upon a time” is the predictable beginning of a fairy tale and “happily ever after” is the ending. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving is a classical myth that defies the conventional standards of a fairy tale. Set in a valley in New England, It’s a gothic tale of mystery and suspense that bears no definite ending surrounding the myth of the “Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow” (Heath 1355). The original text created by Irving was intended for the mature reader, a reader who could understand a sense of irony, had knowledge of history, and taste. What of and how has “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” remained successful with audiences through a period of over one hundred and seventy years? The changes implemented in the text vary by editor from none to several, to create a family movie few changes were taken by Disney, but to create a mainstream movie the changes made by Director Tim Burton are many.

Over time the language of the original text of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Irving has been reworked to accommodate the change in audience. The Heath Anthology of American Literature has an unabridged version of the original wording (1354-1373). A complete copy of the original text of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” can be found in the young adolescent classic section of a bookstore or the juvenile section in the library. A juvenile edition of the text adapted by Arthur Rackham from 1928 was a replicate of the original it is filled with seven colored illustrations and numerous sketching. A young adolescent version adapted by Bryan Brown from 2001 has been abridged to accommodate the current young reader. The format is changed in Brownâs edition. The yo…

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… the retelling of the tale of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Works Cited and Consulted

Dizard, Wilson, Jr. Old Media New Media: Mass Communications in The Information Age. New York: Longman, 2000.

Fowles, Jib. The Case for Television Violence. California: Sage Publications, 1999.

Irving, Washington. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Ed. Illustrated Arthur Rackham. United States: David McKay, 1928.

Irving, Washington. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Ed. Bryan Brown. New York: Masterwork Books, 2001.

Irving, Washington. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Ed. Jayne M. Fargnoli. New York: Houghton, 1998. 1354-1373.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Narr. Bing Crosby. Disney Mini Classic, 1949.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, 1999.

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