The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

by Washington Irving

Other authorsArthur Rackham (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1990




New York : Books of Wonder, 1990.


A superstitious schoolmaster, in love with a wealthy farmer's daughter, has a terrifying encounter with a headless horseman.

User reviews

LibraryThing member gbill
Old books are like old people. A little fragile, a little faded, and perhaps about to fall apart, and yet having stories within which can still captivate, stories which have been poured out to others before you’ve come along to hold the very same pages, and which may pour out to others when you’re gone.

Perhaps it’s only when one feels one’s own mortality that one feels this way, but is there any better symbol of the best of humanity passing down its history, knowledge, and culture from generation to generation, than a book? And of all books, any better representative of this than one which is old, having been in the library of unknown others before coming into one’s own?

I found a connection not only to Northeastern America in the 18th century while reading ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, but also to the fellow book lover who clipped the poem “Life or Death” by feminist/anarchist writer Voltairne de Cleyre out of the newspaper and included it in these pages for me to find decades later. With a front and back cover in this 1885 edition that appears to be alligator leather beginning to crack in places, and with the silk strings that bind the book together having been mostly snapped with age, it needed to be handled very carefully.

Inside, however, I found Irving’s language beautiful, his characters iconic, and his story memorable. It’s really no wonder it’s been adapted in so many forms since 1820, and is a favorite at Halloween time. It’s the perfect short story, absolutely brilliant. The illustrations provided nice touches, particularly of the lovely Katrina van Tassel. ‘The Spectre Bridegroom’ was also included here and a teeny little less successful, but quite enjoyable nonetheless, featuring an ancient castle on the Rhine and love at first sight. Ah youth. Who can’t empathize? The mores might have been different (Katrina’s “provokingly short petticoat” displaying “the prettiest foot and ankle in the country round”), and life may have been simpler, but the feelings of love, jealousy, and fear of noises in the dark are the same.

Am I reviewing the book or this edition? Or the beauty of books and humanity in general, having been swept up in some form of mystic reverie? Perhaps all of the above.

Oh, and connection discovered to the last book I read, which was “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Ichabod Crane’s love and mastery of Cotton Mather’s history of New England witchcraft.
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow]still has the power to connect readers with memories of the Revolutionary War era that lingered into the 19th century. Reduced to its essential elements, it's the story of a classic love triangle. Which suitor will the lovely Katrina Von Tussell choose – brawny bad boy Brom Bones or nerdy schoolmaster Ichabod Crane? It's what Washington Irving does with the story that makes it so much fun. His descriptions of Ichabod Crane's appearance*, the school room, food, Sleepy Hollow, and, of course, the Headless Horseman are so detailed that you can easily conjure up mental images. The undertone of sarcasm lets you know just how seriously to take the story. Other than some jarring racial stereotypes, the story holds up well almost 200 years later.

*Speaking of Ichabod Crane's appearance, I wonder if Cooper might have borrowed from Irving in creating David Gamut's character in The Last of the Mohicans?
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LibraryThing member andyray
It's interesting how one sees a book that one has read before at the ages of 10, 22, and 40-something. Now at 64, I see clearly how Bram Bones pulled his trick on Ickobod Crane, leaving the field wide open for his marriage to the sweet baker of Dutch delights.
What earns this book the five stars is the delicious descriptions of the 18th century Tappen Zee, Sing, Sing, Tarrytown area, which now are urban attachments to the greater Metropolitan New York area. We know the time this story takes place as they are still discussing the Revolutionary War, although methinks Irving's description is the rural scene about 50 to 100 years earlier.
Whatever, Irving brings you right into Ichobod and Brum's and Katrina's lives and their culture, using what I choose to call "high omniscient" voice. This is a voice that knows everything and paints people's profiles for the reader. We know Ichobod Crane is a wonderful dancer and erudite scholar, but he also despises more than a touch of manual labor. He also wants Katrina for her dowry of the huge farm and its wealth, while the Dutch lad wants her for herself.
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LibraryThing member jrissman
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a short story about superstitions schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, who lives in the New York countryside in the late 1700s. While the well-known, culminating horseback ride may be the high point of the story, I found the portrayal of life in rural, early America and Ichabod's somewhat comedic character to be just as enjoyable.… (more)
LibraryThing member janemarieprice
It had been many years since I had read this wonderful story. I had forgotten how absolutely hilarious it is. Example: “he was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the dilating powers of an anaconda.” Do not read on an empty stomach as there are many tantalizing descriptions of various food stuffs.
LibraryThing member Darcia
This is one of those stories that needs to be savored. The words have a beautiful cadence that make for great material to be read aloud. The story itself is fun, with vivid characters and a bit of mystery. But I go back to it every now and then just to experience the beauty of the language.
LibraryThing member theboylatham
A short story about a schoolteacher and his encounter with a headless ghost rider. Pretty dull.
LibraryThing member Doris.Biegler
This is the story of Icubob Crain and the headless horseman. Icabob is a teacher who is less than attractive but seems to be unlucky, finding himself in the middle of a great mystery in a small town where everyone fears the ghost of the headless horseman that comes out at night.

I though this story was a good story but better for a little bit older age group. This is a story written from the original and has been tamed down a lot. But a horseman with no head that comes out at night might scare young children none the less.

With this story you could have the children draw out pictures of what the characters in the book might look like now in this day and time. Also you could discuss riding a horse when you have no head, how hard would that be and how does he see where he’s going?
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LibraryThing member la2bkk
It's difficult for me to categorize this work, although in retrospect its popularity surprises me. As a children's book on the supernatural, on some level it may strike a chord although the book's humor will be lost on the younger reader. As an adult book, its simplicity and lack of real suspense or horror left me unimpressed.

All in all, a mildly interesting and nostalgic period piece.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
My first experiences with this Halloween story were on old Halloween records my parents had and of watching the old Disney video in elementary school for Halloween. I realized though that I had never actually read the story itself. So I downloaded the free version on my Kindle.

Everyone should know this story, or at least have heard of it. It's about Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster of Sleepy Hollow, and his run-in with the evil Headless Horseman.

This story is very well-written and enjoyable even after such a long time. I was surprised to find that the Disney version was extremely accurate; so if you watch that short movie you will get a very good representation of the story.

Most of the story is spent setting things up and some of the descriptions can get a bit drawn-out and boring. At the same time some of the descriptions are also rather amusing and humorous.

All in all an excellent story that made for an interesting read. Might get a bit boring at parts for kids, but I was impressed at how funny some parts of it were too. If you get a chance to watch the Disney movie Sleepy Hollow, it is a great movie and really stays true to this story.

This free Kindle version had some slight formatting problems in a couple places, nothing too horrible but I did notice them.
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LibraryThing member vibrantminds
The book is the classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. Set in Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod is the schoolmaster who is quite smitten with Katrina Van Tassel but so is Brom Bones who is his rival in every sense of the word. Superstitions plague the town including the one of the Headless Horseman who haunts the church yard and is seen nightly dashing from there to the battlefield in search of his head. A party ensues at the Van Tassel estate. Ichabod and Brom are both in attendance to woo Katrina. After the party Ichabod stays on but leaves looking rather downtrodden only to be pursued by the Headless Horseman and never to be heard from again. Brom in turn marries Kartrina and Ichabod is said to be seen in New York and whenever the story of Ichabod is told Brom Bones always laughs. The Disney cartoon movie version is a classic and pretty much sums up the entire story.… (more)
LibraryThing member nordie
Listened to the free Librivox recording, and the narrator was well suited to the story.

I've always meant to read this and I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen. I thought that perhaps the headless horseman appeared more often, but this was pitched just right. In Sleepy Hollow, not long after the War of Independance, when many lives were lost, ghost stories have been built up around what happened.

Ichibod Crane, the school teacher, has been courting one of the local women, much to the dismay of others who would like to also court her. He has become aware of the local war stories - both the British and the Americans can past nearby - and these stories are repeated at a local party thrown by the father of his beau. Once the party finishes, he stays behind to talk to the girl but gets turfed out with a flea in his ear not long after - Irving not going into detail. He has to ride his horse through the haunted area, only to be chased by the headless horseman.

Crane is never to be seen again, and rumours abound for a while about what happened and whether he is still alive

Good haunting story, and well suited for a reading on a dark and stormy night.....
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LibraryThing member bookwyrmm
I was excited when my book club picked this because I am directing a play version right now. I have to say, I was rather disappointed. As there is no dialogue and Irving goes into such detail about everything, which is too much for a novella, the story drags and seems like nothing but exposition. The climax was lost in excess description.… (more)
LibraryThing member thornton37814
What marvelous descriptions that Washington Irving makes as he relates the tale of Ichabod Crane, a schoolmaster from Connecticut who is teaching in Tarry Town, New York, and his encounter with the infamous "headless horseman." Irving is a master at describing the setting. He did enjoy writing rather long sentences in places. I enjoyed this revisit to a book read many years ago, realizing that I now had a much greater appreciation for Irving's writing. This is a story that would make a great read-aloud to upper elementary and middle school students. I read this on my Kindle with the 1992 Public Domain Books edition. This version had some formatting issues when diacritics were introduced into the text.… (more)
LibraryThing member john257hopper
I thought this would be a taut and short horror story, but two thirds of it was a dull recounting of Ichabod Crane's idiosyncrasies and his attempts to woo a local heiress. The actual encounter with the headless horseman is brief and, for me, totally lacking in any suspense. 1/5
LibraryThing member delphimo
Many times, I have viewed the animated Disney version of this classic short story. The setting inspires mystery and foreboding. Irving presents a well-written and very descriptive story concerning the Dutch settlers to New York. The story hinges a little on jealousy and greed. Two men battle for the lovely and rich young lady, Katrina Van Tassel. Which will win the prize? The description of the early settlers and their beliefs and their life displays a people still dominated by superstition. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing one of the first truly American writers emerge and develop his craft, but also leaving a legacy of early America.… (more)
LibraryThing member RachaRolla
Beautifully written, vivid descriptions. A classic piece of literature.
LibraryThing member slarsoncollins
This classic is beautifully written with elegant descriptions. I grabbed it because it was free, but would have gladly paid for this remarkable piece of literature.
LibraryThing member readafew
Listened to this book on the way home and I think it's the first time I've heard/read the whole story of Ichabod Crane. Everyone know the basics of the story and the headless horseman. But there was a lot that I had forgotten from the different films and of course each one interprets the ending in their own way. I liked this ending and I am happy to have finally had a chance to hear the original version. It makes it easier to appreciate the other interpretations that way.… (more)
LibraryThing member marycha
The pictures are well drawn with many details added onto them. Flint Russ, the illustrator did a great job with that. The story was interesting, yet a bit sad.
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
3.5 stars

Ichabod Crane is a schoolteacher in a small village. The village has a resident ghost, the Headless Horseman. This short story really doesn't have a lot to tell beyond a bit of background, then what happens when Ichabod meets the Headless Horseman. Even still, I liked it. It's a fun ghost story to read around Halloween and since it's so short, I just might read it every year at this time. Unfortunately, despite it being so short, when I read it, due to timing, I only got about half-way before I set it aside. I picked it up and finished the other half a little later, but I think the interruption kept me from enjoying it even more.

Reread 1 year later:

3.25 stars. Ok, the main part of the story, when Ichabod meets the Horseman is - no question - the best part. I think I need to read this without distractions, though. I will probably try to read this in October next year, again, as an annual Halloween read, but I'd like to remember to read at home with no distractions around me. The book is very descriptive and, not being a big fan of description, my mind did wander a little bit.
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LibraryThing member richestgirls
It has been a long time since I have read this story, and I was delighted, once again, to read it.
LibraryThing member hemlokgang
This was the first time reading this tale of mystery and humor. I love Washibgton Irving's characters, but this story was just so-so.
LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
Already being familiar with the tale, there was nothing that was going to surprise me as far as the story goes. I was more interested in the quality of the writing and the author’s story telling ability. Unfortunately, although the writing is competent enough, the story is too long for its content. Basically, nothing happens until the last ten pages or so. The rest of the story is filler. It’s all backstory about Ichabod Crane, and although some of it was amusing, it was unnecessary to the story. There is basically enough content here to fill one episode of Twilight Zone.

Ichabod Crane is somewhat amusing as a character, but at the same time isn’t someone who I would root for. He’s a bit wimpy for my taste, so when he meets his demise at the Horeseman’s hands, it didn’t bother me all that much. The description of the Horseman was pretty good, but I would have preferred more graphic details of his encounter with Crane. In the end, I found the story to be a bit disappointing. Not that it was bad, it was just overwritten and didn’t meet my expectations.

Carl Alves – author of Reconquest: Mother Earth
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LibraryThing member BeckyPugh
This story gave me nightmares as a child. I would only tell this story to older kids and adults. Own a copy.



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