It is one of the commonplaces of our literary history that Washington Irving's Sketch Book put America firmly and finally on the cultural map by pleasing the British reviewers. These arbiters of taste and upholders of cultural standards had long been savaging American publications, and even when they found one to praise, they were reluctant to consider it anything but an anomaly. The Sketch Book “is the first American work,” wrote Francis Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review, “of any description, but certainly the first purely literary production,” which rose to the level of the great English prose stylists. According to Jeffrey, it was quite “remarkable” that a book produced by an American, “entirely bred and trained in that country,” “should be written throughout with the greatest care and accuracy, and worked up to a great purity and beauty of diction, on the model of the most elegant and polished of our native writers.” Nevertheless, The Sketch Book was deserving of the praise, and the acknowledgment of the British literary establishment was one reason for its continued success. But as Jeffrey noted, even before Irving's sketches had charmed the British they had been “extensively circulated, and very much admired” among his own countrymen, so much so that two of our literary historians have claimed a place for The Sketch Book on the alltime American “best-seller” list. A close and careful scrutiny of the reasons for this success will reveal that Irving's famous book touched his American readers on a deep, subconscious level because Irving himself was an acute register of the anxieties of his age.