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Knickerbocker's History of New York

Washington Irving

Book Overview: 

Washington Irving, an author, biographer, historian, and diplomat, completed his first major work, a satire of contemporary local history and politics entitled A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker in 1809. Prior to its publication, Irving started a promotional hoax (not unlike some modern-day publicity stunts?) by placing fake missing persons advertisements in local newspapers asking for help in locating Diedrich Knickerbocker. As a continuation of the hoax, Irving also published a notice purported to be written by the proprietor of the hotel where Knickbocker was staying, in which he threatened to publish a manuscript “left behind” by Knickerbocker if the hotel bill was not paid. From “The Author’s Apology”: “The main object of my work, in fact, had a bearing wide from the sober aim of history, but one which, I trust, will meet with some indulgence from poetic minds. It was to embody the traditions of our city in an amusing form; to illustrate its local humors, customs and peculiarities; to clothe home scenes and places and familiar names with those imaginative and whimsical associations so seldom met with in our new country, but which live like charms and spells about the cities of the old world, binding the heart of the native inhabitant to his home.” - (Summary by lubee930 from the text and adapted from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .men of the countrey whether they had any treacherie in them. So they tooke them downe into the cabin, and gave them so much wine and acqua vitæ that they were all merrie; and one of them had his wife with him, which sate so modestly, as any of our countrey women would do in a strange place. In the end, one of them was drunke, which had been aboarde of our ship all the time that we had been there, and that was strange to them, for they could not tell how to take it."[24]

Having satisfied himself by this ingenious experiment that the natives were an honest, social race of jolly roysterers, who had no objection to a drinking bout, and were very merry in their cups, the old commodore chuckled hugely to himself, and thrusting a double quid of tobacco in his cheek, directed Master Juet to have it carefully recorded, for the satisfaction of all the natural philosophers of the University of Leyden—which done, he proceeded on his voyage with great self-co. . . Read More

Community Reviews

In every reader’s life there are a few books which seem to come out of nowhere at just the right moment to surprise and delight and affirm your hope that there are still treasures lurking in the double-stacked shelves. This was that sort of book for me.

Published in 1809, the young Irving’s book is

Cómo me costó terminar este libro. Horrores.

Esta historia es una sátira de la fundación de Nueva Ámsterdam hasta su conquista por los ingleses.

Dividido en 7 libros, la publicación en sí es una historia aparte. Creo que fue de las primeras técnicas marketing medio guerrillero aplicado.

El primer li

When you pick up a written work by Washington Irving, read it and then attempt an evaluation of the whole, it’s a little like critiquing Gennaro Lombardi on how he made pizza or trying to improve upon a Stradivarius violin. It can’t be done, it should not be! One may annotate on such, but not, at an

If you’re looking for a hard and fast factual account of New York and the areas immediately surrounding the metropolis, this is probably not the book for you.

However, if you want a slice in time, time capsule, full of satire, irreverence and sprinkled with just enough facts to make it entirely beli

This book is incredibly funny! I hadn't read any Washington Irving in years but clearly, it's time to revisit his work.

This is apparently the first comic American novel ever. I don't know how much of that ended up coloring my view, giving it 4 stars instead of maybe 3. There is definitely some very funny stuff in here - social commentary, fake history, perspectives on history, etc. But I felt the book dragged a bit

DNF'd at 50%. I gave it a good solid try but it just wasn't for me. It's not bad enough that I want to give it one star, there were a few interesting and redeeming moments, but not enough for me to sacrifice my reading time to its altar anymore.

If you're looking for a real history of New Amsterdam, look elsewhere. (I'd recommend Russell Shorto's "The Island at the Center of the World"). However if you have enjoyed Irving's gently humorous tales of "Rip Van Winkle" and the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and are looking for more in the same vein,

La prosa satírica del siglo XIX tiene un buen ejemplo en este libro de Washington Irving. Elabora una "mitología" sobre la historia de la dominación holandesa de Manhattan. Divertida a ratos, en otros un esteticismo excesivo hace que el avance de la narración se atasque.
En todo caso, es interesante

This was the most entertaining book I have read in a long time. Washington Irving writes an abundantly clever and creative history of the city to parody a work done by the newly formed NewYorkHistoricalSociety. He chooses as a narrator, Diedrich Knickerbocker, who sees Dutch NY as a whimsical age wi

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