About Washington Irving: Bracebridge Hall, Tales of a Traveller, The Alhambra (LOA #52
This second Library of America volume of Washington Irving brings together for the first time three collections of his stories and sketches. Written at the peak of his popularity, these three works reveal Irving’s remarkable diversity, his skill at adapting European legends to his own style, and the talent for entertainment that made him America’s first literary celebrity.
Bracebridge Hall (1822) was published, like The Sketch Book, under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, and centers on an English manor, its inhabitants, and the tales they tell. Interspersed with witty, evocative sketches of country life among the English nobility is the well-known tale “The Stout Gentleman” and stories based on English, French, and Spanish folklore, vividly recounted with Irving’s inimitable blend of elegance and colloquial dash.
Tales of a Traveller (1824), written after a year-long stay in Germany, is a pivotal work in Irving’s career, marking his last experiment with fiction before he turned to the writing of history, biography, and adaptation of folktales. Irving felt his new stories to be “some of the best things I have ever written. They may not be as highly finished as some of my former writings, but they are touched off with a freer spirit, and are more true to life.”
The Alhambra (1832) was inspired by Irving’s stay during the spring and summer of 1829 at the ancient Moorish palace in Granada, which he called “one of the most remarkable, romantic, and delicious spots in the world.” This rich compendium of tales, deftly interwoven with historical accounts and picturesque sketches, was assembled from Spanish and Moorish folklore, history, guidebooks, and anecdotes of Irving’s experiences among the local residents.
LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
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“He’s extremely funny and entertaining, the sort of writer who can never get to his point without first navigating the side streets, poking in alleys, browsing at store windows and chatting with passersby, until at last you don’t care about his point anymore, having enjoyed the saunter. And just then the point arrives and you burst out laughing.” — Voice Literary Supplement