Rip Van Winkle

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Rip Van Winkle is a fictional short story by Washington Irving published in 1819. It is the first American short story, and is based on the story of an old German legend about a goatherd named Peter Klaus.[1] Rip Van Winkle's setting is in the New York Catskill Mountains. It tells the story of a Dutch man with a history of idleness and family troubles.

The story became well-known during the 19th century and was adapted into an opera in 1920.[2] Rip Van Winkle's name has become a byword for sleeping[3] or leaving a place and returning to it after many years, only to realize how much it has changed.[4]


Rip Van Winkle goes out for a day of strolling and hunting for squirrels in the woods. Late in the afternoon, he becomes exhausted and falls asleep on a grassy knoll. After waking up and returning to his village, he notices his family home is abandoned, and that he does not recognize many of the townsfolk. They tell him that some of his neighbours had been dead for many years, and an American Revolution had also taken place. What felt like an overnight sleep for Rip Van Winkle turned out to have been 20 years.


  1. St. John, Raymond A. (1991). American Literature for Christian Schools Bob Jones University Press, p. 150
  2. New York Times RIP VAN WINKLE IN OPERA.; Chicago Company Gives First Performance of De Koven's Work.; (January 3, 1920)
  3. Americans Like Rip Van WInkle—King The Palm Beach Post; p. 112 (Jun 14, 1964)
  4. Klingman, H.C. Back Then...: Coming back to America felt like I was Rip Van Winkle; Naples News (Jan 13, 2011)

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