How has Washington Irving influenced American Romanticism?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When we think of Washington Irving, what stands out most of all is what he accomplished in his short stories. Above all what he did was help America develop a distinctive and unique literary voice of its own by writing his fiction. Romantic elements that we see are the way that Irving takes European based legends and archetypes and re-writes them, planting them firmly in America, and thus satirising and ridiculing various aspects of American History. A key aspect of Romantic literature is the importance of myths and supernatural elements, and these can all be seen in his most famous stories, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Rip van Winkle" and "The Devil and Tom Walker." Although his fiction is the result of lots of borrowing from European sources, Irving made his storytelling unique by incorporating his sardonic voice to his work, making it distinctive and also transforming himself into a literary celebrity.

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