Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) by John Quidor

Halloween wouldn't be the same without children and adults alike, rehashing the harrowing saga of Ichabod Crane: that lanky and superstitious schoolmaster from Connecticut who was pursued one autumn night by a ghostly horseman—a headless one as legend went—in a secluded glen of Tarry Town, New York, called Sleepy Hollow. Set in 1790, Washington Irving's famous story begins with local folklore surrounding this horse-bound phantom:

"The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. 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." 

Now, go snuggle up with a cup of hot chocolate and continue reading this beloved and spine-tingly tale. After you've done that, click on the links below to watch the 1980 film version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow starring Jeff Goldblum and last but not least, the ever popular 1958 Disney version of Ichabod's adventure. Ah, childhood Halloween memories at their best.

Ichabod Crane (1856) by William J. Wilgus

Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958)

Wikipedia reference: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Text of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow part 1 (part 2, part 3, part 4)
Film: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1980) with Jeff Goldblum

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