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Library of America Washington Irving Edition

Washington Irving
Washington Irving:  History, Tales & Sketches (LOA #16) by Washington Irving
Washington Irving: Three Western Narratives (LOA #146) by Washington Irving

Library of America Washington Irving Edition : Titles in Order

Book 3
America’s first internationally acclaimed author, Washington Irving established his fame with tales of the Hudson Valley in the days of Dutch rule, and then spent seventeen years in Europe mining the Old World for stories. When he finally returned to the United States, he embarked on a trilogy of books on the American West that would prove decisive in molding his compatriots’ conception of the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest. The Library of America presents this Western trilogy in its third volume of Irving’s work.

Irving’s own encounter with the West came in 1832 when he accompanied the Commissioner of Indian Affairs on a month-long journey to what is now eastern Oklahoma. His account of that trip, A Tour on the Prairies (1835), described wild landscape, rugged inhabitants, and dramatic chases and hunts with an eye for romantic sublimity and a keen appreciation of the frontiersman’s “secret of personal freedom.”

After the success of his first western book, Irving undertook to write the history of John Jacob Astor’s ultimately failed attempt to establish a fur-trading empire in the Northwest. In Astoria (1836), he created a sweeping epic of exploration, commercial enterprise, and “contest for dominion on the shores of the Pacific,” drawing on Astor’s rich archive of materials and enlivening it with his flair for vigorous storytelling.

In The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837), Irving focused on a single memorable figure—an army officer and fur trader who may also have been an American spy tracking British ambitions in the far country—to reveal the flavor of frontier life in the Rockies and beyond. 

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.
Book 1
Washington Irving’s career as a writer began obscurely at age seventeen, when his brother’s newspaper published his series of comic reports on the theater, theater-goers, fashions, balls, courtships, duels, and marriages of his contemporary New York, called Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent. Written in the persona of an elderly gentleman of the old school, these letters captured his fellow townsmen at play in their most incongruous attitudes of simple sophistication. Irving’s next work, Salmagundi, written in collaboration with his brother William and James Kirke Paulding, and published at irregular intervals in 1805–06, continued this roguish style of satire and burlesque. 

A History of New York, publicized by an elaborate hoax in the local newspapers concerning the disappearance of the elderly “Diedrich Knickerbocker,” turned out to be a wild and hilarious spoof that combined real New York history with political satire. Quickly reprinted in England, it was admired by Walter Scott and Charles Dickens (who carried his copy in his pocket). In later years, as Irving revised and re-revised his History, he softened his gibes at Thomas Jefferson, the Dutch, and the Yankees of New England; this Library of America volume presents the work in its original, exuberant, robust, and unexpurgated form, giving modern readers a chance to enjoy the version that brought him immediate international acclaim.

The Sketch Book contains Irving’s two best-loved stories, “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It also includes many sketches of English country and city life, as well as nostalgic portraits of vanishing traditions, like the old celebrations of Christmas. 

A writer of great urbanity and poise, acutely sensitive to the nostalgia of a passing age, Washington Irving was a central figure in America’s emergence on the international scene.

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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