Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Report: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Truth time. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow isn't a book, it's a short story. Book report fail on my part...or is it? LoSH seems like a pretty fitting end for the Halloween edition of Book Reports. A tale of terror--the bits about the headless Hessian horseman are rather chilling--as well as humor--the bits about poor Ichabod are mostly silly. And I must say that I have a soft spot in my strange heart for Ichabod Crane. He's a super-gawky outsider bookworm nerd, always geared up for delicious free food, totally interested in the occult, perpetually freaking himself out about ghosts, and looking for a lovely heiress to take him away from the dull and penurious life of a school master...

Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the trooper, having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head; and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.   --Washington Irving

Did Ichabod get his just desserts in his encounter with the Headless Horseman? I mean, he was putting on airs in an attempt to snare Katrina Van Tassel. Maybe he deserved to have the Horseman chase him over the covered bridge. And in case you're wondering which cinematic version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow aligns closer to Washington Irving's story, it's the Disney version. Disney animators pretty much nailed the characters. It probably didn't hurt that Irving was quite explicit on Ichabod Crane's appearance--all part of the laughs, ladies and gents, all part of the laughs. But Burton, of course, did a much better job of bringing the Headless Hessian to life through Christopher Walken. Truth.

Oh! But Halloween is nigh! Remember, my dear ones: open your books, but never your doors to strangers...

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