Rip Van Winkle  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Rip Van Winkle is a short story by the American author Washington Irving published in 1819, as well as the name of the story's fictional protagonist. Written while Irving was living in Birmingham, England, it was part of a collection of stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon.

Summary

"Rip Van Winkle" is set in the years before and after the American Revolutionary War. In a pleasant village, at the foot of New York's Catskill Mountains, lives kindly Rip Van Winkle, a Dutch villager. Van Winkle enjoys solitary activities in the wilderness or hanging out at the inn with his friends. He is loved by all in the town, especially the children to whom he tells stories or for whom he repairs toys. However, he tends to shirk hard work, to his nagging wife's dismay, which has caused his home and farm to fall into disarray.

One autumn day, to escape his wife's nagging, Van Winkle wanders into the mountains with his dog, Wolf. Hearing his name called out, Van Winkle sees a man wearing antiquated Dutch clothing; he is carrying a keg up the mountain and requires help. Together, the men and Wolf proceed to a hollow in which Rip discovers the source of thunderous noises: a group of ornately dressed, silent, bearded men who are playing nine-pins.

Van Winkle does not ask who they are or how they know his name. Instead, he begins to drink some of their Jenever and soon falls asleep.

When he awakens, Van Winkle discovers shocking changes: his musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. He returns to his village, where he recognizes no one.

Van Winkle returns just after an election, and people are asking how he voted. Never having cast a ballot in his life, Van Winkle proclaims himself a faithful subject of King George III's, unaware that the American Revolution has taken place, and nearly gets himself into trouble with the townspeople until one elderly woman recognizes him as the long lost Rip Van Winkle.

King George's portrait on the inn's sign has been replaced with one of George Washington. Van Winkle learns that most of his friends were killed fighting in the American Revolution. He is also disturbed to find another man called Rip Van Winkle; it is his son, now grown up. Van Winkle also discovers that his wife died some time ago but is not saddened by the news.

Van Winkle learns that the men he met in the mountains are rumored to be the ghosts of Hendrick (Henry) Hudson's crew, which had vanished long ago, and that he has been away from the village for at least 20 years. His grown daughter takes him in. He resumes his usual idleness, and his strange tale is solemnly taken to heart by the Dutch settlers, particularly by the children who say that whenever thunder is heard, the men in the mountains must be playing nine-pins. The henpecked husbands in the area often wish they could have a sip of Van Winkle's elixir to sleep through their own wives' nagging.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rip Van Winkle" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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