Washington Irving (1783-1859) was the youngest of eleven children born in New York City to an English mother and a Scottish father. The first native American to succeed as a professional writer, he remains important as a pioneer in American humor and the development of the short story. Unlike his brothers, Irving did not attend nearby Columbia College. In 1806, he passed his bar examination, but his heart was with literature. He published History of New York, a comic in which the narrator was his fictional character named "Diedrich Knickerbocker."" Irving's writing was so successful that the New York "Knicks- named their basketball team after Diedrich. Several years later, Irving moved to London and began to study German literature, scribbling original short tales based on his translations. On one inspired day he produced "Rip Van Winkle," which most scholars describe as the first American short story. In "Rip Van Winkle,"" Washington Irving creates his masterful story by using imagery, irony, moralism, mysticism, and symbolism.
To begin, Washington uses imagery to help produce his masterpiece, "Rip Van Winkle."" Irving uses many descriptive adjectives while describing Rip's voyage into the Kaatskill mountains. Just before Winkle encounters the strange beings, he "lay musing at the scene of the cliffs scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of the setting sun, and the shadows that nightfall casts- (23). Irving makes us feel like we are actually next to Rip, watching the sunset. We become even more aware of the beautiful nightfall: "When the weather is fair and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple, .
and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky, but, sometimes, when the rest of the landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits, which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will glow and light up like a crown of glory- (3). Irving uses adjectives which bring to life the words portraying the sky.