Rip Van Winkle A New Critical Approach and in Context
Starting Questions • Do you like the story? Its Language? Humor? Anything else? • How do you compare this with the other popular texts on time/space travels? -- e.g. Somewhere in Time; -- Lost Horizon (1937, 1973) -- 黃梁一夢 (盧生 、呂洞賓 ）http://ms.ly.ks.edu.tw/~chinese/i_work/idiom.htm -- 桃花源記
Outline • A New Critical Approach –Rip’s Identities Lost from and Re-Written into History • As a Realist/Historical Text • “RVW” in Historical Context
Rip Van Winkle A New Critical Approach • Narrative elements (1): 3-part structure & plot • Beginning – Rip as a hen-pecked husband; • Middle – his venture into Katskills; • End – his return
Rip Van Winkle Loss and Re-gaining of Rip’s “Identities” • Narrative elements (2): characterization • Rip – contradictory right from the start • Beginning: easy-going but insistent in not doing homework; helpful to others but no use to his family p. 6) • Identifies with his dog – p. 8 • Contemplates the landscape – 8-9 • The middle part—a realm of mystery (with silence, strange peals, game and liquor//an escape from the original stage for performing his identities.)
Rip Van Winkle Rip: Loss of Identities After – changes: (of signs for his identities) • Gone are his dog (alter ego) and the amphitheatre; (p. 12) • The family and acquaitances– the others to whom the self relates. • a crowd of new faces in the village, (more next page) • Searching for the self by imitation he is astonished to discover a beard on his own chin • unaccustomed the other parts forming one’s identity: fashions of clothing; his village, and his own house. • a double "I'm not myself ... I can't tell what's my name, or who I am!"
Rip Van Winkle A New Critical Approach • Narrative elements (3): changes in the environment
Rip Van Winkle A New Critical Approach • Narrative elements (3): changes
Rip Van Winkle Identity re-gained and written into History • Narrative elements (4): ending (climax and solution) • Identity re – gained or re-written into history • Finds his Relatives and old acquaintances; makes adjustment • Gets confirmed by new authorities: -- p. 17 self-important man’s return; -- the historian • Becomes “a history” himself in two senses: -- does nothing but tells stories; -- has many versions of his story until it is settled down to the present one.
Rip Van Winkle (2) As a Realist/Historical Text • With multiple frame for Rip/reader to enter the mysterious center step by step. • The outmost frames shows attempts to establish credibility which are either contradictory (beginning) or overdone. • The other frames lead Rip and the readers in the direction of the non-human and fantastic.
Rip Van Winkle (2) Narrative frames (1) --contradictory beginning and ending -- used to establish credibility? • Beginning – • Knickerbocker's published history-- is known for its "scrupulous accuracy.“ (pp. 3-4) • His errors and follies his imprint on New-Year cakes. • Ending – K: the setting, witness account, certificate.
Rip Van Winkle (2) Narrative frames (2) –entry into mystery • p. 4: from the present tense to the past tense; • the village’s location -- the foot of the fairy mountains. • pp. 8-9 –away from the human world: talking to the dog and contemplating the landscape on a green knoll; • P. 9 – stranger – dress of antiquity to another time zone? (Or the haunting of Hendrick Hudson as the past?) • p. 10 – amphitheatre –another stage; • P. 11 – Dutch alcohol sleep --back to the past?
Rip Van Winkle in Context Washington Irving Any ideas? It embodies historical changes (in literature, in the U.S. history and in Irving’s life), but not escapism.
“Rip Van Winkle” in Literary Context • Significant in U.S. Literary history, national identity. • Adding national colors (landscape, history, immigrants) to a German folklore; • “A national fantasy of escape” from responsibility (Rust 171)
“Rip Van Winkle” in Literary Context • Tale dramatic incident as formal skeleton--the long sleep and astonished waking. • The essay-sketch tradition the subtly detailed descriptions of place which dominate the first two paragraphs • Combined into a modern short-story form, the emergence of American Romantic nationalism (combining myth and realism). (Cf. Evans) • but is it a story of escape or the U.S. for all?
“Rip Van Winkle” in Literary Context • My argument: after considering the historical details, the text can be read as an embodiment of Irving’s contradictory views to changes, which he resists but has to accept. (Cf. Blakemore)
“Rip Van Winkle” (1819) in U.S. Context; set sometime in between 1750 and 1799 • Before the Revolutionary war, NY is slow-pace and rural. • After 1783 the influx of New Englanders, also called Yankees, became a torrent that almost submerged the small Dutch settlements. At that time more people immigrated to New York from New England than from anywhere else in the world. By 1820 people joked that New York was becoming a colony of New England. • After 1779 – the development of ‘Democracy’ and capitalism not without conflicts: Republicans had accused Federalists of being crypto royalists or unabashed "Tories" ("Washington Irving: `Rip Van Winkle.'“ )
RVW/Irving in Historical Context (2): Contradictions • Escaped from the States for financial reasons; • Implied criticism of the new nation and its democracy, which, however, he had to embrace. • Contradictory attempts to justify his escape to England or to a European mythic past.
“Rip Van Winkle” (1819) in Context Washington Irving (1783-1859) • One with desultory interests in: • the theater, • association with literary-minded young men in New York, • and travel (including several trips up the Hudson and a two-year excursion to Europe in 1804 and 1805).
“Rip Van Winkle” (1819) in Context Washington Irving • His jobs: • A practicing attorney for only a few years • 1810 -- joined two of his brothers in the hardware business. • Late1812 -- the editor of the Analectic Magazine • Late 1814 -- an officer in the militia and to serve in the War of 1812. • In 1815 -- went to England to help with the failing family business. • 1815 – 1832; 1842 - 1846 – remained abroad • 1829 -1832 -- served as secretary to the American Legation in London. • In 1842 -1846 -- he was appointed U.S. Minister to Spain • How about 1815 to 1829? (Rust, Blakemore)
Knickerbocker: credible? • Knickerbocker’s credibility:A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, with Knickerbocker named as the author. This work is blatantly satirical, and presents Knickerbocker as humorously illogical, even foolish. New Yorker of Dutch descent;
The Stranger as an embodiment of the Dutch past • The stranger (p. 9): “His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion—a cloth jerkin strapped round the waist—several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at the knees.” Hendrick Hudson (the 1st explorer of Hudson river)
References: • 《李伯大夢》導讀--真與假的模糊地帶http://www.novel.idv.tw/text/comment_3.asp • "Family Resemblances: The Text and Contexts of 'Rip Van Winkle.'" • Blakemore, Steven. "Family Resemblances: The Text and Contexts of 'Rip Van Winkle.'" Early American Literature 35, no. 2 (2000): 187-207. • Rust, Richard D. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 74: American Short-Story Writers Before 1880. Ed. Bobby Ellen Kimbel, et al, Bowling Green State University. The Gale Group, 1988. pp. 171-188. • Evans, Walter. “Rip Van Winkle: Overview.” Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994 • "Washington Irving: `Rip Van Winkle.'“ Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them, Volume 1: Ancient Times to the American and French Revolutions (Prehistory-1790s). Ed. Joyce Moss and George Wilson, Gale Research, 1997.