By Washington Irving

For the bicentennial of its unique publication-the first full-length publication from the daddy of the yank brief story

In 1809, New Yorkers have been humming a few sequence of ads about the whereabouts of Dutch historian Diedrich Knickerbocker. They have been unaware that Washington Irving had invented the fellow fullyyt and put the advertisements himself. Knickerbocker's purported manuscript, A background of recent York, used to be Irving's personal. advised from Knickerbocker's standpoint, A background of latest York is a chronicle of latest York's fifty years less than Dutch rule within the 1600s that performs speedy and free with the proof, to uproarious impact. Irving's good-humored spoofing had endurance, and his satire supplied town with its first self-portrait. A background of recent York propelled Irving to the heights of literary stardom or even made a bit historical past of its personal: New Yorkers are known as Knickerbockers to today.

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Sample text

Coup de Grace I have often thought that Sophie was perhaps secretly relieved by my first refusal, and that her offer was made more for my sake, at the time, than for hers. She was still close enough to her one bad experience to approach physical love with more dar­ ing, but also with more fear, than do other women. Moreover, my Sophie was timid, and that explained her bursts of courage. She was too young to suspect that life is made up less of sudden exaltation and stubborn loyalty than of compromise, and remem­ brance betrayed.

One day, leaning on her elbows and cupping her hands to support her chin, she began, “ Erick, I’d rather tell you straight out that I’ve somehow come to love you . . So, whenever you wish, do you under­ stand ? And even if it’s not serious. . ” We were both too young to be entirely natural, but Sophie had a disconcerting honesty and direct- Coup de Grace ness which increased the chances for misunderstand­ ing between us. Nothing but a pine table, still smell­ ing of resin, separated me from this girl who was offering herself without further ado; though I kept on dotting indications in ink on the worn ordnance map before me, my hand grew less and less sure.

But the best of honeys will finally ferment: I little suspected that I was to pay hundred­ fold for each of my faults, and that Sophie’s resigna­ tion in accepting them was to cost me higher still. Love had made her a glove in my hands, of a texture both supple and strong; when I left her and happened to come back some half-hour later I would find her in the same spot, like an object abandoned. I alternated between insolence and ten­ derness towards her, but that worked all to the same result, to make her love and suffer even more; my vanity compromised me with her exactly as desire would have done.

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A History of New York (Penguin Classics) by Washington Irving
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