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August 7, 2007

Hinterland Diary

John Stoehr

A familiar feeling some days . . .

Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself, as he went up the mountain: apparently as lazy, and certainly as ragged. The poor fellow was now completely confounded. He doubted his own identity, and whether he was himself or another man. In the midst of his bewilderment, the man in the cocked hat demanded who he was, and what was his name?

"God knows," exclaimed he, at his wit's end; "I'm not myself--I'm somebody else--that's me yonder--no--that's somebody else got into my shoes--I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on the mountain, and they've changed my gun, and every thing's changed, and I'm changed, and I can't tell what's my name, or who I am!"

From Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle"

Posted by John Stoehr at August 7, 2007 6:30 AM


I appreciate the Rip Van Winkle quote. It's funny how things resonate by chance sometimes. I was re-reading "The Comedy of Errors" last night, which echoes the two themes in your Washington Irving excerpt: time and the loss of identity. Antipholus and his servant Dromio, of course, are mistaken for their identical twins in Ephesus, which leads to all kinds of confusion and fun. These mix ups are in turn related to time: a clock at one point appears to run backwards (much to Dromio's consternation) and various deadlines press upon the characters, including the ultimate deadline of execution for old man at the hands of the duke.

Posted by: gary panetta at August 7, 2007 10:44 AM