As I sit here, eagerly awaiting Halloween to make its annual appearance, I am transfixed to my television at 11 pm watching Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow”.
A number of thoughts struck me as I watched this. The first is how old the story is, written in 1820 entitled “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by William Irving is one of the first fine examples of American literature. A truly timeless tale even though it is itself based in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The story regards a Hessian trooper who had been beheaded by a stray cannonball during the American revolutionary war, only to awaken each night since in search of his head.
“The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane” 1858 by John Quidor,
The striking and pervading theme of the story is the utter relentlessness the Headless Horseman demonstrates when attacking its victims, which is a theme that can be found in many modern horror and thriller writings, such as Stephen Kings “It”.
The premise seems crude and unpolished by today’s standards, with very little twists and turns throughout the story, however this is what always draws my mind to it time and time again. The sheer simplicity is most likely the reason why it has stood the test of time and has been transcribed into many different mediums. From the big screen version to animated features and now a T.V. series (which is to be avoided, as it really has nothing to do with the story), we can see how we are using different forms of media to carry on our historical literature well into this century and, hopefully, beyond.
The vast strides we have taken in the last number of years allows us to enjoy such literature at our fingertips, something which was not even available to our parents. This is allowing great literature pieces such as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to not only further stand the test of time, but to remain relevant, thus demonstrating that truly fine works of literature and art can render time irrelevant.