In the absence of a writer's explicit statement about the purpose of a particular work, we must infer the writer's intentions from what we know about his or her life, travels, interests, and influences. In Washington Irving's case, for example, we know he was born in the late-eighteenth century and grew up in New York City in the early-nineteenth century, and so he would have become familiar with locales close to the city, such as a town now known as Sleepy Hollow (Kinderhook in Irving's days). We also have an interesting comment Irving made about his youth:
My holiday afternoons were spent in rambles about the surrounding country....I knew every spot where a murder or robbery had been committed, or a ghost seen. I visited the neighboring villages and added greatly to my stock of knowledge by noting their habits and customs, and conversing with their sages and great men. (The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, "The Author's Account of Himself")
Based on this, it is likely, if not certain,...
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