Tim O’Brien: A Modern Day Washington Irving

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August 21, 2019

BY JIANNA LIN

An overarching theme among many of Washington Irving’s works is that they are stories grounded in reality containing glimpses of fantastic or magical events and innuendos concerning war. This is characteristic of Rip Van Winkle’s magical events and nods to the American Revolutionary War, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s magical headless horseman soldier, and the controversy surrounding Washington Irving due to his novel Mahomet and His Successors and American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These themes are also overarching themes among the works of modern-day writer Tim O’Brien, who is most famous for his work The Things They Carried. This novel, just like many of Washington Irving’s books, consists of a collection of short-stories grounded in reality, concern an American war, and contain fantastic and magical events. In this way, many short stories written by Washington Irving and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried are written about similar events in a similar manner, but during a different historical era and time period. In other words, The Things They Carried is the modern-day version of Washington Irving’s short stories on war.

The topics and manner of writing is the same, but the perspective is new. Consequently, the writing of The Things They Carried is akin to a new person throwing on an old pair of shoes. The shoes are the same, but the person is different. In this light, reading both authors within the same academic semester allows a reader to perceive how the style of Washington Irving’s writing is still appreciated today by a modern audience, and can still be used today to convey powerful commentary in a most delicate manner.

This realization allows readers to hold a much greater appreciation for the impact of Washington Irving on American literature, for it serves as evidence of Irving’s longstanding influence. Reflecting upon these similarities in style, content, topic, and themes between Washinton Irving and Tim O’Brien reveal that the literary mannerisms and themes of Washinton Irving’s short stories live on today in the short stories of The Things They Carried.

There may be no greater illustration of an author’s influence on American literature than the success of a modern-day reincarnation of the author’s work. The Things They Carried and Irving’s short stories are both culminations of the tales of America, proving that modern day events in America and life in America can still be written using the same literary approaches and modes as that of great American writers of the past. Using the same literary mannerisms that were pioneered by Washington Irving to tell stories of America’s past, new American stories can be told.

Accordingly, readers searching for an appreciation of either the history of American literature, how American literature has progressed throughout time, or overarching themes that have remained relevant throughout American history, may find it by reading Washington Irving and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Such a reader would benefit from reflecting upon how Irving’s historical literary inventions are utilized by O’Brien to create literature of the modern day.

Jianna Lin is a special guest blogger this week. In Spring 2019, Jianna wrote this blog specifically for the Washington Irving Society page. She submitted the blog as an optional assignment for Dr. Tracy Hoffman’s 2304 American Literature class at Baylor University. This was not a formal paper assignment, but a casual blog response to the reading. Please feel free to leave comments about Jianna’s response here on the website.

Published in: on August 21, 2019 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nagging Reminders for Moral Instruction from the Van Winkles, Walkers

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August 14, 2019

BY GRACE ALBRITTON

“The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving is a story about Tom Walker, an extremely greedy man, who would rather sell his soul to the devil, or Old Scratch, in order to gain the treasures hidden by a late pirate, than be poor.

His wife who’s equally as greedy, if not more, urges Tom to take the devil up on his offer and sell his own soul after hearing the story of Tom meeting Old Scratch. In spite of his wife, with whom he does not get along, Tom declines the offer of selling his soul in exchange for winning Pirate Kidd’s hidden treasure.

Caused by Tom declining the offer in spite of his wife, she ventures out to strike up a deal with the devil herself. After returning with silver to trade with the devil for a second time, she never returns to Tom. He feels grateful to the devil for ridding him of his horrible, mean wife.

The devil and Tom make a new deal with many more conditions for Tom, like also becoming a slave trader. The story goes on and Tom later feels guilty about being so greedy that he sold his very own soul in order to gain wealth. It is thought, at the end of the story, that he, after being taken away by the devil, haunts Boston.

Tom Walker’s wife reminds me of the wife of Rip Van Winkle, Dame Van Winkle. As I read the beginning of this story, I saw many similarities between the two wives in Washington Irving’s stories.

I began to wonder why Irving depicts women this way in several of his stories. As described in the short story, “Tom’s wife was a tall termagant, fierce of temper, loud of tongue, and strong of arm. Her voice was often heard in wordy warfare with her husband.”

Like in “Rip Van Winkle,” once the two men are free from their wives and they have died, they feel a great sense of relief. As a teacher to kids, it may be wise to pair the two stories and teach them together. The stories read similarly and had similar themes, in relation to the women characters.

Storytelling as moral instruction is a common theme the two stories share. “Rip Van Winkle” is thought sometimes to be a warning to people to stay away from alcohol, as it can have negative effects in one’s life, as in the story. In “The Devil and Tom Walker,” the story could be used as a cautionary tale. The story can be seen as a warning to steer clear of the devil and his effects on people’s lives.

Washington Irving, one of the first American writers to write about fantasy of any sort, writes with the same overall eerie tone in both short stories. As the reader, you can just feel something supernatural will happen at some point in the story. While the relationships with their wives were similar in some ways, they also were different, but the nagging wife character is apparent in both short stories by Irving. Perhaps this is the way Irving felt about women and just so happened so have an interesting way of portraying his views.

Grace Albritton is a special guest blogger this week. In Spring 2019, Grace wrote this blog specifically for the Washington Irving Society page. She submitted the blog as an optional assignment for Dr. Tracy Hoffman’s 2304 American Literature class at Baylor University. This was not a formal paper assignment, but a casual blog response to the reading. Please feel free to leave comments about Grace’s response here on the website.

 

 

 

 

Published in: on August 14, 2019 at 2:12 pm  Comments (1)  

For the Love of Money: Rooting out Evil in “The Devil and Tom Walker”

rooting money

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BY JIANNA LIN

August 7, 2019

Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker” seems to be an elaborate tale written with the purpose of equating the want of wealth with the devil and with all things antithetical to goodness and God. In this light, it seems to be a story-version embodiment of a definition for the word or concept, “evil,” in which evil is defined as the pursuit of great wealth.

Of all the sins the devil serves to represent, the story associates the devil with the want of wealth more than any other sin. The association between this pursuit and “evilness” is quite profound throughout the storyline. Not only is pursuing wealth the assumed cause of many deaths, such as those of both Tom, his wife, and others who had made deals with the devil, and the reason Tom acted mean-spiritedly as a usurer, but it is also the cause of conflict and lack of love in relationships, such as that of Tom and his wife, who, despite being married, “conspired to cheat each other” (Irving 1).

The effect of Tom’s want of wealth on his marriage is so strong that when he finds her corpse in the woods, instead of feeling sadness, he “shrugged his shoulders” and “even felt something like gratitude toward the black woodsman, who, he considered, had done him a kindness” (Irving 2).

This shocking reaction of Tom’s highlights the depth of the destructive influence of pursuing wealth. Through portraying the want of wealth as the motivation behind all types of evil behavior and the root of all evil, the story defines evil as the pursuit of wealth.

Beyond associating the want of wealth with evil and all things antithetical to God, the story of “The Devil and Tom Walker” affirms that God cannot be fooled. The story illustrates that God is aware that many, such as Tom, develop “faith” in pursuit of “good things” in the next life. The effect of such materialistic faith is illustrated by Tom’s fate, who, “had left his little Bible at the bottom of his coat-pocket and his big Bible on the desk buried under the mortgage…never was sinner taken more unawares. The black man whisked him like a child into the saddle…and away he galloped, with Tom on his back” (Irving 5).

This powerful and dramatic fate for Tom seems to suggest that those seeking God for motives of securing “treasures in heaven,” as opposed to a genuine relationship with God, are not indeed protected by God. Instead, these individuals, whose faith in God is rooted in and contingent on their desire for materialistic gain, have faith that is fleeting just as material goods are.

The Bible that Tom keeps in his pockets to protect him from the devil is a metaphor for materialistic-based faith, which resides not in one’s heart as a continual theme in their lifestyle, but in their pockets, where it may be conveniently put in and removed again. But real faith, that which has roots in genuine appreciation for God, cannot be removed or forgotten. It is a part of the person, engrained in their heart, always with them.

Tom’s materialistic faith shares the characteristic materialistic objects—it can be misplaced, forgotten, or left behind. When the devil comes for Tom, his Bible, a symbol of his materialistic faith, is left behind. It is not present when he is caught off guard, and is therefore not able to save him. This insinuates that God cannot be fooled, and is not to be used as a means of materialistic gain, for only genuine faith saves.

Jianna Linn is a special guest blogger this week. In Spring 2019, Jianna wrote this blog specifically for the Washington Irving Society page. She submitted the blog as an optional assignment for Dr. Tracy Hoffman’s 2304 American Literature class at Baylor University. This was not a formal paper assignment, but a casual blog response to the reading. Please feel free to leave comments about Jianna’s response here on the website.

Published in: on August 7, 2019 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Wanted Women” in Jane Austen and Washington Irving

Pixabay engagement ring

–Photo from public access in http://www.pixabay.com

BY LIZZIE DARWIN

July 31, 2019

Jane Austen’s Emma and Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” use gender roles to show the devastating truth of the idea of a perfect woman in the eyes of society and how it has influenced the way women see themselves.

At Baylor the words coined “ring by spring” is something students value a lot. Over the years, women have been known as the underdogs. Women have been influenced in ways that make them feel their only duty in life is to get married and become a wife.

Emma, a rather intelligent woman, has no use for her intelligence, so she spends her time helping others find someone to marry. The amount of importance on this encourages Emma’s actions, which leads to a lot of Emma’s mistakes throughout the novel. This “role” we have created for women also comes with its standards or rules for women to live up to.

In Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip finds his wife, Dame, outrageously annoying as she does not fit her role as a wife. Dame is said to constantly nag at Rip in order to get him to do his duties as a man around the house. This analogy depicts how we think women should act as a wife: to not say a thing, let men do as they please, and complete all of our house chores.

These two depictions show what everyone has expected women to do for years. The stereotypical role of a woman still influences women today because it becomes associated with what a man loves most about a woman: one who stays quiet and finishes her chores. Because marriage is so highly valued we feel a need to look up to these unwritten rules as women, so we can become a wife. By doing so, we completely neglect who we are and change ourselves.

As a woman, it is sad for me to see how women are portrayed in both these works. It also explains why so many women change the way they are for men and aspire to be the perfect wife today. When Rip finds out that Dame is dead he is not bothered by it but, in fact, relieved by the news.

Over the years, gender stereotypes are either like Emma, completely investing themselves in the idea of marriage, or doing everything to become the perfect idea of a woman. No one wants to be a Dame. Dame is not liked by men. At least, that is how the book portrays her.

In my opinion, Dame is the hero in all of this gender role nonsense. She does not follow the rules and does what is best for her family by nagging Rip to keep up with his work around the house. This is why it is so important for people today to start writing and talking about women the same as we do men. In conclusion, because marriage is so heavily valued, so is trying to mold ourselves into being the “wanted women.”

Lizzie Darwin is a special guest blogger this week. In Spring 2019, Lizzie wrote this blog specifically for the Washington Irving Society page. She submitted the blog as an optional assignment for Dr. Tracy Hoffman’s 2304 American Literature class at Baylor University. This was not a formal paper assignment, but a casual blog response to the reading. Please feel free to leave comments about Lizzie’s response here on the website.

 

Published in: on July 31, 2019 at 2:43 pm  Comments (2)  

Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome” Pairs Well with Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

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BY CHRISTINE PERERA

July 24, 2019

Washington Irving is one of the greatest American authors. During this semester, we read Irving’s Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I personally felt a deeper connection to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow because I used to live in New York state prior to my family moving to Texas.

The way that Irving describes the beautiful scenery of the North East was a trip down memory lane for me. I also enjoyed the plot of the story, as it came across as a funny story rather than a horror story, as I thought it would be. Because the story plays out that Brom was playing a joke on Ichabod, the story read out like a long practical joke and the plot of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was light and funny.

A light story (one that a reader could still think about) would pair well with the Washington Irving stories. Because we read the Washington Irving stories under the theme of romance in class, I would recommend a book written by Edith Wharton. I adore books written by Edith Wharton because the descriptions that she writes portrays beautiful scenery and pictures and the reader feels as if he or she was really there with the characters. I read a book titled Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction and I couldn’t help but make a connection between the short stories of Edith Wharton to the Sketch book that Washington Irving made.

The story of Ethan Frome is about a man who searches for love and finds it with the wrong girl. Like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, there is a tragic love along the story. The plot is interesting because there are unexpected turns, for example the character that Ethan Frome falls in love with is Mattie Silver, the cousin to his wife. Thus, there is a love triangle between Ethan Frome, Mrs. Frome, and Mattie Silvers. This is similar to the plot of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow because the reader is aware of a love triangle between the main character, Ichabod Crane, Brom Van Brunt, and Katherine Van Tassel.

The two stories are also similar because they both have grim undertones. As a reader, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad by the fact that Ichabod did not end up marrying Katherine Van Tassel. There was no happy ending for any of the characters because the reader does not find out about the future of Katherine Van Tassel or Brom Van Brunt. Similarly in Ethan Frome, the main couple dies in a tragic accident after finding out that they could never be together.

The two stories compliment each other because they give the reader a similar feeling. The stories also share a similar plot line and are written by notable American authors.

Christine Perera is a special guest blogger this week. In Spring 2019, Christine wrote this blog specifically for the Washington Irving Society page. She submitted the blog as an optional assignment for Dr. Tracy Hoffman’s 2304 American Literature class at Baylor University. This was not a formal paper assignment, but a casual blog response to the reading. Please feel free to leave comments about Christina’s response here on the website.

Published in: on July 24, 2019 at 3:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Irvine: Mary Shelley’s “Pet Name” for Washington Irving, Intriguing Twist to History of Irving, Texas

Irving News Record

The Irving News Record, October 29, 1959, discusses the founding of Irving. — City of Irving, Texas, archives

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Published in: on July 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm  Comments (4)  

Washington Irving Wednesdays: Summer Additions

July 10, 2019

BY TRACY HOFFMAN

Well, it’s been awhile. And I have much to say, but I’ll try to keep it short. My purpose is simple: jump back into Washington Irving Wednesdays!

Today, I updated the Washington Irving Society page, so you can check out our recent panels from the American Literature Association in Boston over Memorial Week. We had three exceptional panels.

I can’t fully put into words how incredibly proud I am of the outstanding work graduate students, emerging Washington Irving scholars, and seasoned scholars are doing. We never have a lack of things to say and consider about the Father of American Literature.

At our business meeting in Boston, it was decided that Sean Keck would remain as vice-president and I would remain as president. John Anderson will be assisting with Facebook, and Jeffrey Scraba will be monitoring Spanish posts in Twitter.

However, we did not have a volunteer for a Washington Irving Society Treasurer. If you’re interested, please let me know. Basically, Sean Keck and I don’t feel comfortable receiving money on our website, spending such funds, and moving forward as a 501C3, without having a treasurer in place. We don’t mind hiring an accountant to take care of taxes, so you won’t have to worry about that. Again, let me know if you’d be willing to serve in this capacity.

Speaking of treasure. So, later this afternoon, I’ll be cruising over to the city archives in Irving, Texas, to continue working on my Washington Irving and Texas book project. I’ll definitely be reporting back on some of the hidden treasures I’m bound to uncover.

I’ve also been in Paris, one reason why I haven’t been blogging on Wednesdays. Irving’s visit there is once again on my mind. I’ll try to write about my trip’s connections with Irving in some upcoming Wednesday blogs.

Next week, I’m being interviewed for another podcast about The Sketch Book, so I’ll be doing some prep work for that interview this week. The big question I must address: “What’s so great about The Sketch Book?” Let’s just say that my blog next Wednesday will probably involve teasing out this question. It’s an overwhelming question considering all the possibilities, and I’ll definitely break it down to something manageable. My answer will probably begin with “Well, it’s great to me in these ways…”

Until next Washington Irving Wednesday…

 

Published in: on July 10, 2019 at 12:28 pm  Comments (1)  

It All Began with a $1 Purchase

 

By Steve Sears

Back in the early 1990s, my township library would schedule a yearly book sale, the goal being to ferret and discard any books that, per their records, hadn’t been checked out in a good period, and to accept books that had “gathered dust” from residences, all to gain money for the library support.

Purchases were a steal: .50 for paperbacks, $1.00 for hardcovers.

On a very warm, May morning, I bought one book, it being the only one that won my interest: a 1908 version of The Sketch Book by Washington Irving.

I had heard of Irving but was unaware that he had written “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. I would educate myself that day and the following day by reading, in my opinion, some of the most luscious word usage I had ever encountered. Yes, the previously mentioned classics were great reads, but so were – and maybe more so for me – “The Mutability of Literature”, “The Wife”, “The Widow and Her Son”.

This led to visits to both his beloved home, Sunnyside, in Tarrytown, New York, and his grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and frequent sojourns to Christ Episcopal Church, which is halfway between Sunnyside and the cemetery, and is often a (I feel) forgotten or unknown tourist attraction. Inside are his pew he sat in for Sunday services, a monument dedicated following his death, and a tiny library where photos, first editions, and personal notes are on display. Further proof of my devotion was my purchase of and stocking my home library with books about and by Irving, many from the 19th century, including The Crayon Miscellany, Pierre Irving’s three-volume Life & Letters of Washington Irving, and a first edition of Wolfert’s Roost (1855). Please know that I read the latter in one evening, it falling apart in my hands, and now held together by an elastic band. This may appear to be disrespect shown the book and history, but I think it better said that reading it in one night is apt respect to my writing hero more so.

2019 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of The Sketch Book, and I’ll close by saying that I think it’s wonderful that Irving’s great Headless Horseman legend is kept alive each fall, but I think he’s deserved of more adulation than just a month or two out of the year. Yes, visitors visit Sunnyside and Irving’s grave year-round, but he I note is often forgotten when mention is made of our country’s and the world’s better 19th century, historic writers.

Dickens, Poe, and good company are all mentioned and deservedly so, but shouldn’t Washington Irving’s sun rise just as high – and maybe higher?

 

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The Washington Irving Society would like to thank Steve Sears for writing this week’s blog. Feel free to comment here to communicate with Steve. You can also contact him at:

www.stevesearswriter.weebly.com.

Published in: on May 15, 2019 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Washington Irving in Paris, Part II

img_1661

Washington Irving and Islam, edited by Zubeda Jalalzai, is now available. Irving’s 1821 journal from Paris gives us more to consider about his early interest in writing about Islam.

 

BY TRACY HOFFMAN

April 24, 2019

I decided to look through Washington Irving journal entries written in April. I was hoping to find something on this exact day, April 24, two-hundred years ago. I’ve done this sort of activity with classes in which we look to see what was happening in the newspapers on this day: 10 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago, etc.

In the process of looking through Irving’s April journal entries, I came across journal pages from April of 1821. Irving writes of Paris and his first conversation with actor François Joseph Talma.

In the second volume of journals, 1807-1822, edited by Walter A. Reichart and Lillian Schlissel, we are given this note: “Irving’s meeting with the great actor, François Joseph Talma (1763-1826), occurred on April 25, 1821. Irving had first seen him on the stage on May 29, 1805, and saw him repeatedly in the theater and socially in 1823, as indicated by his journal entries. Irving utilized these notes almost verbatim in his ‘Conversations with Talma,’ first published in The Knickerbocker Gallery: A Testimonial to the Editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine from its Contributors…” (386).

Reichart and Schlissel correctly state that the journal entries are very close to the article (https://archive.org/details/knickerbocker00newyrich/page/n8).

Irving makes some insightful comments about Paris in 1821. For instance, he writes: “He [Talma] received me in a very cordial manner, and asked if this was my first visit to Paris. I told him I had been here once before, about fourteen years since” (archive.org).

The bulk of Irving’s Knickerbocker Gallery article deals with Hamlet and the French theater since Irving had seen Talma perform in a French version of the play in Paris.

But what I found fascinating was another connection Irving must have had with Talma: the Arabesque and the Prophet Muhammad (once spelled Mahomet).

In a preliminary dig into Talma’s biography, we find “his professional debut…on Nov. 21, 1787, as Seide in Voltaire’s Mahomet (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Francois-Joseph-Talma).

Evidently, in 2005, readings of Voltaire’s Mahomet, which is a very anti-Mahomet play, created a small riot in France (https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/blame-it-voltaire-muslims-ask-french-cancel-1741-play).

In 1821 upon meeting Talma, Irving had not published his own biography of the Prophet, nor had he traveled to Spain where he would have access to the Spanish archives.

I have often wondered why both Mary Shelley and Washington Irving wanted to publish a biography about Muhammad, and why their publisher rejected them both initially. François Joseph Talma’s performance in the 1787 Mahomet adds yet another layer to Irving’s fascination with the subject.

The influence of the theater in Irving’s writing cannot be overstated. In fact, we could use some scholarly work which delves into this subject. I have yet to find a list of all plays Irving attended. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist. We need to change that.

Until next week, please feel free to add to the conversation wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. Comments are very much welcomed. Also feel free to message me at Tracy_Hoffman@baylor.edu. I try my best on Wednesdays to blog on the WIS website, to respond to all correspondence, and to update the WIS page.

Published in: on April 24, 2019 at 11:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Washington Irving in Paris

the greek statues

The decapitated St. Denis at Notre Dame Cathedral. –Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

BY TRACY HOFFMAN

April 17, 2019

With the recent fire at Notre Dame, as well as comments made on Saturday by “Washington Irving” (a.k.a. John Dennis Anderson) about staying in Paris, I’ve been thinking about Washington Irving’s connections to Paris.

“The Adventure of the German Student,” a sketch included in Tales of a Traveller  (1824), takes place in Paris at the time of the French Revolution.

Irving begins the story:“On a stormy night, in the tempestuous times of the French revolution, a young German was returning to his lodgings, at a late hour, across the old part of Paris. The lightning gleamed, and the loud claps of thunder rattled through the lofty, narrow streets—but I should first tell you something about this young German.”

As Irving scholars know, “The Adventure of the German Student” features a female decapitated goblin. Contemplating this sketch and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” alongside Irving’s commentary about the French Revolution, beheadings naturally come to mind when mentally mapping Irving’s paths to Paris.

In “The Adventure of the German Student,” Irving mentions specific places in Paris, such as the Pays Latin, the “monastic walls of the Sorbonne,” and “the great libraries of Paris, those catacombs of departed authors.” Though he doesn’t specifically name Notre Dame, we can imagine it looming in the background since it’s a short walk from the Latin Quarter.

Irving also kept a journal while in France in 1823.

On Sunday, August 3, 1823, he writes: “Arrive at 11 oclock at Paris get a room at the Hotel de Suede Rue Du Baillay — drive out in cabriolet to Mr Storrows — find the girls much grown & improved — dine there a Mr & Mrs (Arnold) Everett there with their little son & daughter — Walk in, not being able to get place in carriage — roads thronged with carriages — water works playd at St Cloud” (Reichart 205).

His Paris journal entries consist of items such as visits to the theater and opera, sleeping arrangements, and dining parties.

While in Paris on Saturday, August 9, 1823, Irving says he met with John Howard Payne, the playwright. And numerous visits with Payne are mentioned throughout his journal entries.

The two worked on some projects together, and Payne was also part of the love triangle with Mary Shelley. Payne proposed to her, but she declined, saying she preferred Irving.

For several days in Paris, Irving was troubled by a nightmare. He writes on Monday, August 11, 1823: “Woke at 4 oclock this morning—with a strange horror on my mind—a dread of future evil—of failure in future literary attempts—a dismal forboding that I could not drive off by any effort of reason” (Reichart 209). The next day, he writes: “Awake between 3 & 4 with same horror of mind” (210).

One might think with these troubling nightmares, Irving would have some beverage to settle his nerves, or take something else, but I don’t see any such references.

On Saturday in Irving, Texas, someone asked “Washington Irving” about his favorite wines, which stumped the Father of American Literature. And to be honest, I don’t recall any specific comments by Irving about a favorite wine, and for the past few years, I’ve been studying wassail and drinking in his writing.

Now, I’m noticing in his Paris journals numerous references to coffee, not wine. No wonder I like this guy! I’m more of a coffee connoisseur than a wine aficionado myself.

On Thursday, August 14, 1823, he comments about his breakfast of coffee, bread, and butter: “Breakfast at caffe—had caffe au lait, pain & beurre” (Reichart 211). And on Saturday, August 16, he scribbles “go to coffee house & breakfast” (212). Again, on August 18, it’s “Coffee au lait & bread & Butter –18 sous” (213).

Speaking of waking up to coffee and Irving’s nightmares, I came across a vampire reference in Irving’s journal. I have the Black Vampyre on my list of must-reads, since its reception history connects to Irving, so that’s no doubt why I noticed this entry this round.

On Friday, August 15, Irving notes his theater doings: “go to Theater St Martin—see L’homme Gris—Le Cuisinier de Buffon (good – father) & Polichinelle Vampire –very extraordinary” (Reichart 212).

On Friday, September 19, Irving leaves Paris. From August 3 to September 19, 1823, he’s in Paris. In his journals, I don’t see any references to Notre Dame. But I’ll keep looking. You typically come across these kinds of references when you’re not actively looking for them, kind of like the vampire and coffee references I spotted while scanning for Notre Dame.

Until next week, please feel free to add to the conversation wherever you like: Twitter, Facebook, on this page. Comments are very much welcomed. Also feel free to message me at Tracy_Hoffman@baylor.edu. I try my best on Wednesdays to blog on the WIS website, to respond to all correspondence, and to update the WIS page.

Published in: on April 17, 2019 at 5:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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