Headless Sightings NYC - Prospect Park
“History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription molders from the tablet; the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand—and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?”
Brian Jay Jones on Washington Irving:
In his time, though, Irving was one of the most famous men in the world. If he were alive today, he’d regularly be featured in gossip magazines—for he was famous not just for his work, but for his personality and for the company he kept. His life would have been the stuff of an E! True Hollywood Story – for Irving had a knack for going to the most fashionable parties and having the most fashionable friends. And he always seemed to be in the middle of some of the most extraordinary, world-changing events.
He was one of our first—if not the first—genuine American superstars. He had movie star good looks, and was a first rate conversationalist. His name alone was enough to sell books and generate press. Politicians fell over themselves to be associated with him. Fans mobbed him, and flooded his home with requests for his autograph or a scrap of his blotting paper. His image was in constant demand. He worked hard to protect his private life, and was fiercely protective of his public reputation. He was, in short, everything we still expect of our celebrities today – but even in today’s celeb-ucentric culture, there still really isn’t anyone quite like him.
But Washington Irving made it all look so easy. And the trappings of fame have become such an accepted part of our view of movie stars—and I would argue that books were the movies of the 19th century, and its writers were the equivalent of movie stars—that we have all forgotten that Washington Irving did it all first.
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NOTE: Headless Sightings were featured on The Weekly Flickr 08.01.2014
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