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Question 3

What established Irving as a foremost satirist?

Washington Irving (17831859)

There were many factors which makes the author foremost satirist
Many people in England and the rest of Europe thought
that America would never develop a literary voice of its
own. Then Washington Irving arrived on the literary
scene is the first element
Irving was the youngest son of a pious hardware importer
and his wife. Despite his limited education, Irving had a
genius for inventing fictional comic narrators.
The background also played an important role which make him enthusiastic
He became well known for these characters, including Jonathan Oldstyle,
Gent., a caricature of British writers who could not accept the values of a
new nation; and the mysterious Diedrich Knickerbocker, the imaginary
author of a fake and comical history that ridicules the entire American past.
The Knickerbocker book established Irving as the foremost New York
satirical writer.
All this time Irving also practiced law, though his interest in it was
lukewarm. In 1815, his father sent him to England to take charge of the
failing overseas branch of the family business. Irving found the business
beyond repair, but he fell in love with the British literary scene and stayed
abroad for seventeen years.
An American Voice
While in England, Irving was greatly influenced by the novelist Sir Walter
Scott, who advised him to read the German Romantics and find inspiration
in folklore and legends. This advice helped shape Irvings future.
That is the most influenced element for his trend in the future.
He decided against putting further energy into business and gave himself
entirely to writing.
In 1817, he began to write stories based on German folk tales. His two
most famous stories, Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
adapt German folk tales to American settings. Irving collected his stories
under the title The Sketch Book, which made Irving an international
Although Irving borrowed openly from European writers, he brought a
fresh new voice to his material. It was an American voiceat times as
inflated as a politicians, at times self-mocking. The young nation embraced
this voice as its own.
Until he was over fifty years old, Irving did not sign his own name to his
work. Why did he wait so long? The mood of a story depends largely on
how the author describes the setting. He gave note words or phrases that
describe the setting in a particularly evocative way, such as morass or dark
In conclusion, with the objective in his life as well as treasure advises
and inspiration in folklore and legends. These aspects shaped and
established Irving as a foremost satirist