Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle
by Washington Irving
narrated by Christian Rummel
.65 hours

"Rip Van Winkle" is an iconic piece of American literature, ingrained in our cultural memory so deeply that it has become a part of American folklore. Surprisingly, "Rip Van Winkle" is not a novel, not even a novella, but rather a short story that has achieved this iconic status. The basic premise of the story is that Rip Van Winkle, a kind but indifferent farmer and husband, heads to the hills one afternoon to hunt. While traipsing through the Hudson River Valley, he comes across the mid-eighteenth century version of a kegger and indulges in some particularly potent brew. Afterward, he settles down into a postprandial nap and, when he awakes, he discovers that he has been asleep for quite a bit longer than he had expected :-/ Despite it's short length, "Rip Van Winkle" manages to convey time, place and character with incredible acuity, making even the implausible appear like realistic fiction.

Christian Rummel delivers Washington Irving's words at a fast pace, just shy of being hurried and, with a nod of inflection here and there. The narration ignores the tenor of some key scenes, draining the story of tension. is marketing this short story as children's fare, which could have informed the narrator's choices; but it is unfortunate that those choices condescend to children rather than expose them to a great story's timbre and texture.

Other Stuff: "Rip Van Winkle" is a free dnload for members at

This book qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. "Rip Van Winkle" is set in the Hudson River Valley in New York.

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  1. I LOVE Rip Van Winkle :) I just signed up for audible so I'm heading over to get my free download right now, thanks for the heads up!

    -Kate the Book Buff
    The Book Buff: Book Reviews for Regular People

  2. I have just recently developed an audible addiction, so I am glad to hear that such a beloved classic tale is available for free. Heading to download it now!:)