Rip Van Winkle- PDF book by Washington Irving

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
Rip Van Winkle



Rip Van Winkle- has been received by the American public for so many years that I feel emboldened to bespeak a little of your favour for his new appearance in another form. This version, now printed for the first time, maybe regarded perhaps as a souvenir of a greater number of performances than I can possibly count, and as such I hope may be acceptable.

 I have endeavoured to select from my Autobiography (with the kind consent of the Century Company) such passages relating to the history of the play and my performance of the part as may be of interest to the readers of this volume and to give the desultory gossip of the Autobiography a rather more historical sequence. I can lay no claim to having invented Rip. 

The Greeks knew him; the Germans made a home for him in their Hartz Mountains, calling him Carl, the Shepherd; and the genius of Washington Irving transplanted him to our own Kaatskills. Yates, Hackett, and Burke had each made him the hero of separate dramas and representations before I tried my hand upon the legend. 

The idea of acting Rip Van Winkle came to me in the summer of '59. I had arranged to board with my family at a queer old Dutch farmhouse in Paradise Valley, at the foot of Pocono Mountain in Pennsylvania. A ridge of hills covered with tall hemlocks surrounds the vale, and numerous trout-streams wind through the meadows and tumble over the rocks. Stray farms are scattered through the valley, and the few old Dutchmen and their families who till the soil were born upon it; there and only there they have ever lived.

 The valley harmonised with me and our resources. The scene was wild, the air was fresh, and the board was cheap. What could the light heart and purse of a poor actor ask for more than this? On one of those long rainy days that always render the country so dull, I had climbed to the loft of the barn, and, lying upon the hay, I was reading that delightful book, " 

The Life and Letters of Washington Irving." I had got well into the volume, and was much interested in it, when, to my surprise, I came upon a passage which said that he had seen me at Laura Keene's theatre, as Goldfinch, in Holcroft's comedy of "The Road to Ruin," and that I reminded him of my father "in look, gesture, size, and make." Till then, I was not aware that he had ever seen me. I was comparatively obscure, and to find myself remembered and written off by such a man gave me a thrill of pleasure I can never forget. I put down the book, and lay there thinking how proud I was, and ought to be, at the revelation of this compliment. 

What an incentive to a youngster like me to go on! And so I thought to myself, " Washington Irving, the author of ' The Sketch-Book,' in which is the quaint story of Rip Van Winkle." Rip Van Winkle! There was to me magic in the sound of the name as I repeated it. Why, was not this the very character I wanted? An American story by an American author was surely just the theme suited to an American actor.

The text of Rip Van Winkle, as played by Joseph Jefferson, is here for the first time published. The aim has been to supply such illustrations and explanations as will best recall the play to those who have seen it. To this end, Mrs Cora Hamilton Bell has, with Mr Jefferson's approval, amplified and supplemented the stage directions, and has supplied descriptive prefaces to each act. 

Many of the illustrations are direct reproductions from photographs of Mr Jefferson in the character of " Rip." Those in the text are mostly from drawings by Richard Creifelds, made directly from scenes in the play. The portrait is from a photograph of Mr Jefferson recently taken and is the one best liked by him. Most interesting of all, perhaps, will be the reproductions of paintings by Mr Jefferson himself of scenes in the Catskill Mountains, and the illustration facing page 120, wherein the figure is by F. Eugene Smith, and the background by Mr Jefferson.


  the book details :
  • Author: Washington Irving
  • Publication date: 1895
  • Company: New York, Dodd, Mead and company

  • Download 7 MB

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