This short-story of a masterpiece of American literature is based on local history but is rooted in European, namely German, myth and legend.
Main character, Rip van Winkle, a descendant of Dutch settlers, lived in the village at the foot of the Kaatskill Mountains near Hudson River with his nagging wife and young children. He was a simple and kind-hearted man, obedient husband, favorite among residents, always ready to help with easier work. His major flaw though was that he avoided all profitable work which reflected in his desolated farm, aimless wander in surrounding woods and mindless chatter on the local’s inn bench. In one autumn day to avoid his wife’s criticism, Rip decided on squirrel hunt with his dog Wolf. He got up to the highest peak of the Kaatskill Mountains, where he suddenly heard someone calling to him. Looking around, he saw a strange man clothed in old Dutch dress. The man was carrying a keg and asked for help. Rip helped him and together they hit the recess where they encountered group of similarly clothed men playing a game of nine pins. Stranger then filled the jugs with liquor from the keg and Rip helped himself too resulting in the deep sleep. When he came to the next morning, Rip started looking for his gun, but next to him laid only a rusted rifle and his faithful dog was gone. He thought that the men from the previous day had robbed him, therefore he returned to the site, but everything was changed so he decided to head home. Upon arriving to the village, Rip was noticing all the changes in village’s layout, new people and life. When he reached his old house, it was empty, his family was nowhere to be seen. Finally, he decided to go to old inn which is also gone and in its place stood Yankee hotel. After the confrontation with curious villagers he learned that he missed 20 years of his life. His wife was dead, his friends were also dead or elsewhere, his son was his exact copy in character. His daughter Judith took him in and he blended to this new environment. He became known as one of the patriarchs of the village retelling his unusual story to passers by.
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Washington Irving – Rip Van Winkle
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