Restoring Washington Irving into the national American canon
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Washington Irving was one of the primary contributors to American literary nationalism. Writing in the early nineteenth century he created many American legends which include "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." Since the 1960s, Irving's popularity has gone into decline. While Irving was a celebrated author during the balance of the nineteenth century, his name is drifting from the American memory while the "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" continues to influence American culture. Nathaniel Hawthorne, like Irving, was also a large contributor to American literary nationalism during the first half of the nineteenth century. Hawthorne has experienced a longer readership than Irving and his works are frequently dubbed as classics, while Irving's work has been belittled as mere fireside tales. This thesis seeks an explanation as to why Hawthorne is in the national American canon while Irving is not by examining the ways in which these writers: create legends in regard to nation-building, articulate their concerns for the new nation and use different stylistic approaches toward developing narrative fiction, and evaluate the way they take national figures with morally ambiguous characters and turn them into heroes. The conclusion here is that Irving is worthy of a place within the national American canon.