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Irving, Washington - History, Tales and Sketches

Washington Irving

History, Tales and Sketches

The Sketch Book • A History of New York • Salmagundi • Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent.

"The Library of America has published a volume of Washington Irving, and though I never intended to read it, I did glance through, and discovered the story of Rip Van Winkle. Rip sits down for a drink, and lo, next thing he knows, 20 years have passed. Just so with a reviewer who sits down for a glance at Washington Irving. One glance leads to several. Chapters slip past, then whole books (four of them appear in this volume), and finally the reviewer limps back to town, beard grown, hair wild, mumbling a crazily antiquated piece of news: Washington Irving is wonderful."
— Voice Literary Supplement
Overview  |  Note on the Texts  |  Reviews  |  Table of Contents

This volume presents Washington Irving's first four works, three of them in versions established by modern textual scholarship, and one from the original edition.

Between November 15, 1802, and February 1, 1803, the New York Morning Chronicle, a Democratic newspaper edited by Peter Irving, published nine letters by the editor's nineteen-year-old brother Washington, each signed "Jonathan Old-style." All but the first of these were reprinted immediately in the Chronicle Express, the country edition of the paper, with minor corrections and revisions. Irving omitted the Letters from the Author's Revised Edition of his works, prepared for Putnam in 1848, and their only appearance in book form during his life was in two pirated editions in 1824, derived from the Chronicle Express, which first gave the series its present title, Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. The modern scholarly edition prepared by Bruce I. Granger and Martha Hartzog for the edition of Irving's Complete Works (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977) follows the nine-part serial from the Morning Chronicle, emending obvious printer's errors and accepting a few minor variants from the text of the Chronicle Express. This Granger-Hartzog edition, which received the seal of the Center for Editions of American Authors, provides the text reproduced in this volume.

Salmagundi; or The Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others, a collaborative effort of Washington Irving, William Irving, and James Kirke Paulding, was first issued serially in twenty paperbound numbers between January 24, 1807, and January 25, 1808, by the American publisher David Longworth. Each of these installments subsequently appeared in various resettings or sub-editions, so that all of the numbers exist in several forms--the first number alone is known to exist in no fewer than nine different settings. In 1808 Longworth brought out a two-volume bound collection which incorporated different settings of the individual pieces. In 1811 J. M. Richardson of London published an English edition, prepared by John Lambert, and in 1814 David Longworth published a second American edition incorporating revisions by one of the authors, probably Washington Irving. In 1824, while Irving was in Paris, A. and W. Galignani of Paris brought out Salmagundi in an edition revised by Irving. This edition was reprinted in 1834 by Baudry in the French edition of Irving's complete works. Paulding added his own revisions to the French 1824 text and Harpers in New York published it as volumes I and II of the Works of James Kirke Paulding in 1835. Irving refused to include Salmagundi in his Author's Revised Edition of 1848, but in 1860 it was published by Putnam in an edition prepared by Evert Duyckinck that followed the original serial text and incorporated revisions from the 1834 Paris edition. In preparing their critical edition of Salmagundi for the modern Complete Works, editors Granger and Hartzog have followed the first setting of each of the twenty serial imprints and have incorporated Irving's revisions from subsequent settings of the serial and from the second American and first French editions. This modern scholarly edition provides the text used in this volume.

Although the authorship of the various parts of Salmagundi cannot be established absolutely, Hartzog and Granger attribute the following pieces to Washington Irving: "New-York Assembly" and probably "Theatrics" in No. I; the Elbow-Chair essay in No. II; "Fashions" in No. III; the Elbow-Chair essay in No. IV; "Will Wizard at a Ball" in No. V; the Elbow-Chair essay and "Theatrics" in No. VI; "Character of Launcelot Langstaff," "On Style," and "Answer to Certain Meddling Correspondents" in No. VIII; "My Aunt Charity" in No. IX; "The Stranger in Pennsylvania" in No. X; the Mustapha letter in No. XI; the Elbow-Chair essay and "Plans for Defending Our Harbor" in No. XIII; "Cockloft Hall" and "Theatrical Intelligence" in No. XIV; probably "On Greatness" in No. XV; the Mustapha letter in No. XVI; "Chronicles of the City of Gotham" in No. XVII; "The Little Man in Black" in No. XVIII; the Mustapha letter in No. XIX; and probably "To the Ladies" and the Will Wizard essay in No. XX.

A History of New York, by "Diedrich Knickerbocker," went through many editions, translations, revisions, and reprintings during Irving's lifetime. It was first published December 6, 1809, by Inskeep and Bradford of Philadelphia, and was an instant success. In 1812 Irving negotiated with Inskeep for the first of many revised editions, which corrected some misprints from the 1809 edition, altered spelling and punctuation throughout, eliminated various allusions to chivalry and the classics, condensed the comic preamble on world history, and deleted many references to Knickerbocker's problems as an historian. Irving dropped, in all, one-tenth of the narrative and added a like amount, keeping the book at about one hundred and thirty thousand words. Among the additions were a "Further Account of the Author," chapters iv and v of Book II (which narrate the exploration for the New Amsterdam settlement and Oloffe's dream), and the history of the Long Pipes and Short Pipes in chapter vi of Book IV (a satire of American political parties which replaced the quarrel of the Squareheads and Platterbreeches). In 1815 Irving apparently conceived the idea of a third edition of A History of New York, this time to be illustrated by the drawings of Washington Allston and C. R. Leslie. Irving continued to revise the History periodically over the next thirty years, until the Author's Revised Edition, G. P. Putnam's collected edition of his writings, in 1848. Although a subsequent edition in 1854 contained a number of minor corrections and revisions supplied by Irving, and a Grolier Club edition in 1886, after Irving's death, reprinted A History of New York with additional small changes based on Irving's 1848 manuscript, for all practical purposes the last major form of the text was the 1848 Author's Revised Edition. For it, Irving revised Books V, VI, and VII, reworked the Peter Stuyvesant section, added material on Van Rensselaer, deleted the allusions to Jefferson's policies, deleted passages regarded as "coarse," softened the satire of the Dutch, polished the style, and added "The Author's Apology," making this 1848 text some seven thousand words longer overall than previous editions. Much more important, however, were the further alterations of tone which these final revisions produced. The 1809 version was published when Irving was twenty-six and relatively unknown. In 1848 he was sixty-five, a revered American man of letters, a diplomat, and an international celebrity. A History of New York in 1848 is a vastly different book from the 1809 version he wrote as a young man. To retain the book's original flavor, the first edition of 1809 is the text chosen for reproduction here.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. was first published in seven paperbound numbers by C. S. Van Winkle in New York (and simultaneously in Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore) between June 23, 1819, and September 13, 1820. Irving was living in England at the time, and to insure his American copyright he sent parcels of manuscript to his friend Henry Brevoort in New York who oversaw their publication. As Irving received the printed numbers, he sent back corrections and alterations which were incorporated in the second editions of the individual issues. Meanwhile, he contracted with John Miller in London to publish an English edition in two volumes which would incorporate additional material, specifically the sketches "Philip of Pokanoket" and "Traits of Indian Character," which had originally appeared in the Analectic Magazine in 1814, and the new "Advertisement" and "L'Envoy." Miller published only the first volume before his business failed in 1820, but Irving, with help from Sir Walter Scott, persuaded John Murray to take over the publication. Murray bought Miller's stock of unbound sheets of Volume I, which he issued with a new title page, reading second edition, and bearing his own imprint. He also published the second volume, and then purchased the copyright from Irving and printed an entirely new edition (reprinted in 1821) incorporating numerous revisions by the author. Two years later, in 1822, Murray published another "New Edition" with further revisions by Irving, the text of which was published the following year in Paris by Baudry and Didot (some copies, dated 1824, also bear the imprint of A. and W. Galignani). Meanwhile the text of Murray's earlier edition (1821) was published (with additional changes) in Dresden, Germany, in 1823, by Montucci with Irving's permission. Finally, Irving made further additions and revisions in The Sketch Book for his Author's Revised Edition issued by Putnam in New York in 1848. Haskell Springer, who prepared the critical edition of The Sketch Book for the Complete Works (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978), has taken his text from the original manuscript where extant, from the first American edition, the first English edition, the Author's Revised Edition, and from additional manuscript material from 1848. Springer has collated these texts against the many revised editions prepared by Irving and accepted emendations from those sources. This volume follows the text established by Springer, and for particular variants and discussions of emendations the reader is referred to his edition.

The standards for American English continue to fluctuate and in some ways were conspicuously different in earlier periods from what they are now. In nineteenth-century writings, for example, a word might be spelled in more than one way, even in the same work, and such variations might be carried into print. Commas were sometimes used expressively to suggest the movements of voice, and capitals were sometimes meant to give significances to a word beyond those it might have in its uncapitalized form. Since modernization would remove such effects, this volume has preserved the spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and wording of the first edition of A History of New York and of the Twayne Publishers' editions of Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent., Salmagundi, and The Sketch Book, which strive to be as faithful to Irving's usage as surviving evidence permits. Some changes, however, have been made: a table of contents has been added for A History of New York and typographical errors have been corrected throughout.

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