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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is subtitled "found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker."  I'm not usually one to read the classics (unless I'm required to read one of them for a class).  However, since Sleepy Hollow, Fox's take on the classic short story by Washington Irving, will debut this fall, I thought I should read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" first even though in the world of the TV show the short story itself does not exist.

The premise of the show is this: somehow both Ichabod Crane and the infamous Headless Horseman are transported from the time of the American Revolution to the present day.  The Headless Horseman begins terrorizing Sleepy Hollow's local denizens anew, and Crane joins forces with a female sheriff's deputy/detective to 'solve' the crimes perpetrated by the Horseman.  And one would assume ultimately to find a way to stop the Horseman once and for all.

I believe the show is getting mixed reviews.  I have seen both an unfavorable review and a more favorable one.  And I have also seen the extended promo for the show, and I am telling you this show looks awesome--there's supernatural weirdness, mystery, thrills, humor, AND a cute British guy.  Okay, what's not to love especially when there's a cute British guy involved?  Although I will say that I wasn't feeling Ichabod's hairdo in photos but in motion in the promo it looks better--a little.

Having now read the short story and watched the promo for the show, I can say that it seems that the show, obviously, hews more to the supernatural aspects recounted in the short story even though the short story, ultimately, isn't really 'ghost story.'  I think the show is more 'inspired by' the short story than 'based on' the short story, if that makes sense.  And honestly I'm not too sure what to make of the short story other than to say that it's really (really really) long and... then there's a non-ending.  I think I'm not really a short story reading kind of person because most of the time when I finish a short story, it's like, 'what's the point?  I don't get it.'

The tiny, idyllic community of Sleepy Hollow, whose atmosphere lends well to hauntings, is terrorized nightly by a headless, horse-riding specter, said to be the ghost of a Hessian soldier separated from his head by a cannon ball.  Ichabod Crane, from Connecticut, comes to teach the local children.  Described as exceedingly tall and lanky and likened to an animated scarecrow absconding from some nearby cornfield, Crane reads tales of witchery and hauntings and enjoys listening to the local housewives' tales of ghostly apparitions; all of which conspire to cause his imagination to run away with fright at each shadow and scratch in the night.

Ichabod falls for a local farming heiress as much for her womanly charms as for the abundant wealth and successful farm she stands to inherit from her father.  However, he has a rival for her affections in Brom, who resorts to breaking Ichabod by mercilessly pranking him and making him appear the fool in front of his lady love.  Upon riding home late one evening after being rejected once and for all by his lady love, Ichabod encounters the Headless Horseman who endeavors to ride beside him in companionable silence despite the former's determination to get away from him.

This is a long, long story, and we are by now 40 pages in when we finally meet the ghoul after many pages of descriptions of the community, of its denizens, of our antagonist and our protagonist, the love interest and her father's farm, the school, etc. setting up this confrontation between Ichabod and the headless rider.  The story isn't really what I was expecting... the point of it isn't really the ghost story that is 'the legend of the hollow', but rather I guess 'the legend' is the story itself of Ichabod and his encounter with the horseman and the implied true identity of the horseman that Ichabod encounters.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Mrs. Romano said…
Well, I enjoyed reading what you wrote about it. I love classics, but some of them are tough to read. I think the show will be great! Can't wait.

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