In my essay, I would like to analyse two stories, namely "Little Cyprien" by Narcisse-Henri-Édouard Faucher de Saint-Maurice, a 19th century Canadian writer, and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, a writer widely considered as the father of the American short story. In my analysis, through comparing the two stories I want to look at the different functions legends play in the creation of the narrative.
First of all, we should consider the narrative tone of the two stories in order to create a reader's perspective on the text and thus become able to trace their respective messages. Whereas the Canadian story is written in a rather grave and matter-of-factly tone, Irving's story abounds with irony and satire and there is an all-penetrating sense of Irving making fun of traditional literary forms as well as certain conceptions common in the Puritan past of the country. I shall look at these features of Irving's story in detail later on.
Both stories are told in the er-narrative, the form that enables both detachment from the narrated material and a greater level of objectivity. Nevertheless, the narrator of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" steps in at times to pass on commentary and thus creates the impression of an oral tale passed on. I believe that this strategy goes hand in hand with the fact that the narrator is trying to stress authenticity of the tale which could be further proved by the following quotations:.
"Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic.".
"The preceding Tale is given, almost in the precise words in which I heard it related at the corporation meeting of the ancient city of Manhattoes-.
The sense of authenticity pervades "Little Cyprien" as well. This time the means by which this authentic air is achieved is the passages written in French that place the tale firmly in the Canadian French community.