Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Washington Irving: Take II

Washington Irving was by turns imaginative, intrepid, lazy, sly, and perhaps most drivingly of all, strongly imbued with what some psychologists, poets and philosophers call "the gift of curiosity." 

When he got down to it, Irving could bust a move on his writing activities. Mostly, though, he loved to explore places, while always maintaining a far-flung social network that included family, friends and fellow writers. 

As related in  Brian Jay Jones' Washington Irving: The Definitive Biography of America's First Bestselling Author (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2011; originally published in 2008 as Washington Irving: An American Original), Irving's early adventures embraced his friends "the Lads of Kilkenny," originally the Nine Worthies, including, by moniker, the Doctor, Sinbad, Nuncle, Billy Taylor, the Patroon, Petronius, Captain Great-heart, the Membrane, Oorombates & "the Supercargo." Let's not forget Dusky Davy. 

Jones notes: there was "an anonymity Washington Irving used increasingly, as it allowed him to take on different personas and write in different voices (p. 59). And so, with Salmagundi; or The Whim-whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others (1807-1808), Irving wrote reviews as Will Wizard, Esq., and about fashion and pop culture as Anthony Evergreen, Gent. -- which reminds me that one of his brothers briefly published two newspapers, one supporting Aaron Burr and the other passionately defending the sometimes outrageous positions of the first one!

Washington Irving often promoted his writing in clever ways. For instance, he created the character of Diedrich Knickerbocker, and then wrote about Knickerbocker under the guise of another pen name, Geoffrey Crayon. He spent a good deal of time exploring Spain, most notably Madrid, Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla -- exactly the same places I've been scampering around in recent summers!

Today's Rune: Warrior. 

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Did not know that about him. I've never read a lot of his work.