Thursday, February 25, 2016

Washington Irving: Take III

I. '"Well, to make a long story short," continued the soldier . . .' Washington Irving, "Governor Manco and the Soldier," The Alhambra: A Series of Tales and Sketches of the Moors and Spaniards (1832). To make a long story short, indeed - another saying we still use in 21st century North America.  

II. What would Washington Irving have thought of the 2016 presidential election season? Let's consult 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), page 330: 

'In truth, Irving harbored doubts about politicians in general. Posturing and demagoguery, he thought, were making it impossible to have any meaningful political discourse or identify real solutions to the depressed economy. Irving was a political pragmatist; he believed extremists, no matter which side of the issues they were on, were bad for politics and bad for people: "I have no relish for puritans either in religion or politics, who are pushing for principles to an extreme, and overturning everything that stands in the way of their own zealous career 
. . . I always distrust the soundness of political councils that are accompanied by acrimonious and disparaging attacks upon any great class of our fellow citizens."'  

Washington Irving wrote these words in 1828, but could have written them today -- even though the vote then was restricted to only white men, and in some states it was still restricted to only white propertied men. 

I generally agree with Washington Irving's comments about American politics -- but more on the wildly momentous 2016 election cycle soon! 

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