The National Society of Arts and Letters

Washington Irving.

Washington Irving. Biography and creativity.
The first American romantic, “the father of American Romanticism ” was Washington Irving (1783-1859), the first U.S. writer whose work ( and not a person, as in the case of B. Franklin ) has received European recognition. Irving himself, a man witty and extremely modest, explained the reasons for its popularity : ” Enlightened Europe was struck by the fact that people from the thicket of America expressed himself on quite decent English. Looked at me – he wrote – as something new and strange in literature as to poludikarya who took pen in hand, instead of sticking him in the head. ”
Jr., the eleventh child of a prosperous New York merchant, a universal favorite, thanks to consistently smooth, friendly disposition, he was multi- talented personality : an excellent draftsman, an avid music lover and a tireless traveler. Irving traveled a lot : he traveled almost half of the American continent, visited England, Germany, at different times for several years lived in Spain. In his life, which he perceived as generally happy, and there were annoying breakdowns and blows of fate. So, because of poor health W. Irving, the only one of the brothers, has not received a university education ; his health got better later, and he lived happily until seventy-six years.
Bankruptcy firm in which Irving was a companion, led to his ruin, but his literary success, he soon recovered state. Only one tragic circumstance Irving was not able to overcome any or forget – the untimely death of his bride, Matilda Hoffman eighteen he had never married and apparently had no girlfriend. Important in life Irving was a literary work, the rule “no day without a line ” he served faithfully. Over forty years of literary activity he produced about twenty voluminous writings and a large number of journal publications. But he almost never practiced only in literature, but in different years, combined with its business or diplomatic service.
Early literary experiments B. Irving : “Letters of Jonathan Oldstayla, Gentleman ” ( 1802 ), published in the newspaper of his brothers Peter and William, participation in the family literary enterprise ( together with his brothers and their cousin-in-law JK Paulding ) – creating a series of satirical ” Salmagundi, or Fads and opinions Lancelot Lengstaffa, Esquire, and others ” (1807-1808), which took even the first successful product – satirical chronicle” History of New York from the beginning to the end of the Dutch dynasty, written by Diedrich Knickerbocker ” ( 1809 ) – are in line with educational aesthetics.
Immediately after the publication of ” New York Stories ” Irving came to strip the grave and long creative crisis, the beginning of which coincided with the death of Miss Hoffman : a decade he published almost nothing. In 1815, Irving went to Europe. This was his second trip overseas. The first was undertaken in 1804-1806 for my health. This time Irving needed to restore peace of mind ; he did not know that he would hold abroad whole seventeen years, first doing the family business, and then at different times occupying diplomatic posts in Spain (1826-1829) and the UK ( 1829-1832 ).
There also tends to come out of the crisis : living in England, Germany, France, Spain, the writer had the opportunity to dive deeply into the elements of romantic art, which in those years in Europe has reached the highest peak. He’s looked at his new country and imbued with patriotic pride in the young country : the contradictions of national reality perceived by the relaxed tones, and the country appeared as America in all its natural glory. By the end of the decade the crisis is over ; in this time changed the socio- philosophical and aesthetic views of Irving. Irving is gone, educator and skeptical gentleman took his place romantic writer, paving the way for new American literature.
Shifts in views on the prospects of Irving national literature on the principles and objectives of art, aesthetics prose genres were cardinal ; they are fully expressed in the four books of essays and romantic stories written in Europe, but is most closely associated with America and meet the most pressing needs of the national culture. This ” sketch book ” ( 1820), ” Bracebridge Hall” (1822), “Stories Traveler” (1824) and ” Alhambra ” (1832 ).
One of the most striking and impressive discoveries Irving romantic – opening colorful world of folklore. Characteristic of European, especially German, contemporary writers attention to folklore of the country as to the language of the national spirit was especially relevant for young American literature. Emergency folklore permeates “American” novel first collections, has emerged as a refreshing source of national identity, which grope for Irving predecessors in the literature.
Returning home in 1832, the world- famous writer to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of Oxford and medals of the Royal Society of Literature, Irving already saw a very different America than the one he was leaving and that nostalgically recalled in Europe. U.S. Andrew Jackson marched briskly and energetically forward towards industrial future.
Even romance -Americans, do not leave home, not always able to smoothly adapt to rapid and dramatic changes in the cultural life of the country and experienced confusion and bewilderment. Irving, sober and sane person, I understand that history can not be reversed, these changes are adopted. He acknowledged the beneficence of capitalist progress, and with them some of the cultural and social costs, which accompanied this progress. Irving undertaken shortly after his return journey to the South and West of the USA, which has resulted in the book ” Journey on the prairie “, “Astoria” ( 1836), ” The Adventures of Captain Bonneville ” (1837 ), American researchers considered as a kind of ” initiation “, ie dedication of the writer in contemporary American life.
In 1842, however, Irving again left for Europe, where he spent at this time four years – as the first U.S. Ambassador to Spain ( 1842-1845 ), and then – a diplomatic representative in London. B. Irving is the first in a series of fairly numerous expatriate American writers (G. James, G. Stein, TS Eliot, Ernest Hemingway ), who for years and sometimes decades lived outside the United States, while continuing to not less rightfully feel their belonging American literature.
Irving finally returned to America in 1846 and settled in the country estate of Sunnyside, near Tarrytown, NY, devoted himself entirely to literary work. Written in 1840-1850 -ies works by V. Irving – is mostly a biography of great men : ” Oliver Goldsmith ” (1840), ” Muhammad and his followers ” ( 1849-1850 ) in two volumes, the five-volume “Life of Washington ” ( 1855 – 1859), which he completed just before his death.
Russian Americanists tend to allocate in the works of Irving four earlier romantic collection, echoing all his subsequent books as failed and seeing the cause of failure of the disparity between the romantic style and methodology pervading their pathos apology for capitalism. Here, however, there is not only exaggeration and substitution criteria of aesthetic ideology, but a discrepancy of this assessment – the one that was given to the writer’s work by his contemporaries. It is known that the first readers ( both at home and abroad) were enraptured by the ” Sketch Book ” and ” Alhambra ” ( it was called ” Spanish” sketch book ” ) and criticized the other two collection. ” Western ” as prose Irving and biographies were in high demand, which, in fact, the author sought, always strive to serve their country.
True, however, that Irving, with his keen sense of joyful long absence of novelty and uniqueness of America, with his soft and graceful irony, smoothing corners rather than sharpen the contradictions remained ideologically and aesthetically writer nativists. They journeyed to the beaten road romance of the second generation, many of whom, by the way, Irving provided generous moral and financial support, surpassed him in the depths of the study and the darkest depths of the human heart. They were sharper and more modern it in America, which stood on the brink of the Civil War ; they were consonant with the spirit of the subsequent periods of crisis in the life of the nation and the world. Nevertheless, the value of Irving as the founder of the U.S. national literature is undeniable ; it is comparable to the place of Pushkin in the context of Russian literature as Pushkin comparable accuracy and subtlety fleeting psychological observations, and the very nature of his talent solar light, imbued with tolerance of human weakness.