Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rip Van Winkle: Beginning and 100% Complete

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I've decided to read a few of the shorter works on my list; looking at the spreadsheet I have with book lengths I noticed that I have at least half a dozen under a hundred pages.  Because these are so short, I'm going to combine my "introductory" post with my "100% complete" post, since writing two blog post on a book that takes me an hour to read seems excessive.

The first one I tackled is Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irvine (also the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). The Kindle copy I read can be found here and clocks in at 36 pages. The story was written in 1819 and tells the story of the kindly but lazy Rip Van Winkle, a villager in the Catskill mountains in the years prior to the American Revolution, who, while escaping from his nagging wife into the hills, falls asleep and wakes up twenty years later.

The story took me less than an hour to read, rather gratifying after some of the lengthier ones I've done! It was a cute story, easy to read, light-hearted, set down as a written version of an oral legend. I found it funny when I looked it up online to find details about it to run across the Spark Notes version. To me, it's one thing to read the Spark Notes for War and Peace or something and another to read them for a simple, easy-to-read, 36-page short story. But to each his own, I suppose.

A quick funny quote:

"I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man; he was, moreover, a kind neighbor and an obedient henpecked husband. Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; for those men are apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the discipline of shrews at home."

I also learned a few new words, along the vein of the quote, which were used to describe Dame Van Winkle: virago, which means "a domineering, violent or bad-tempered woman," and termagant, which means "a harsh-tempered or overbearing woman."

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