Thursday, August 28, 2008

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving

Source: Librivox
Length: 1 hr, 23 min
Reader: Chip

The story: In Sleepy Hollow, a small New York town in the 1790s, village schoolteacher Ichabod Crane is in love. He visits the home of his beloved, Katrina Van Tassel and stays for his other great love, food. While there, he hears the tale of the Headless Horseman, a Hessian mercenary whose head was taken off by a cannonball during the Revolutionary War and supposedly still haunts the region. Brom Bones, Crane's competitor for the hand of Katrina, embellishes the story with his own tale of a midnight race between the spirit and himself. As Crane finally leaves the feast late at night, he hears mysterious sounds all around him and is shadowed by eerie hoof-beats.

Irving writes with all the long-winded embellishments that plague early 19th century writing. It seemed like he wrote an entire book about what was served for dinner at the Van Tassel's house. Beneath this wordiness, though, hides a great writing talent. Irving hilariously praises Crane while all the time making fun of him. The last few minutes of the story, when Crane is pursued by the shadowy figure, are some of the most terrifying in all literature.

Rating: 7/10

The Reader: Chip has a sonorous voice that would work well as professional radio host or announcer. He lends a sense of the melodramatic, which is exactly perfect for the story. He pauses for humorous effect, adds just a hint of sarcasm when needed, and generally makes this an enjoyable story to listen to. His telling of the pursuit of Ichabod Crane left my heart racing.

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