The Heidenmauer: Or, the Benedictines. A Legend of the Rhine [NOOK Book]


James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was a popular and prolific American author. He wrote many historical novels, as well as sea-faring tales. His best-known work is The Last of the Mohicans.
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The Heidenmauer: Or, the Benedictines. A Legend of the Rhine

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James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was a popular and prolific American author. He wrote many historical novels, as well as sea-faring tales. His best-known work is The Last of the Mohicans.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940026427901
  • Publisher: Hurd & Houghton
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Digitized from 1871 volume
  • File size: 834 KB

Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper is considered by many to be America's first great novelist. His most popular work, The Last of the Mohicans, has remained one of the most widely read novels throughout the world, greatly influencing the way many cultures have viewed both the American Indians and the frontier period of U.S. history.


James Cooper (he added the Fenimore when he was in his 30s) was born September 15, 1789, in Burlington, New Jersey, to William Cooper and Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper. In 1790 the family moved to the frontier country of upstate New York, where William established a village he called Cooperstown. Although cushioned by wealth and William's status as landlord and judge, the Coopers found pioneering to be rugged, and only 7 of the 13 Cooper children survived their early years. All the hardship notwithstanding, according to family reports, the young James loved the wilderness. Years later, he wrote The Pioneers (1823) about Cooperstown in the 1790s, but many of his other books draw deeply on his childhood experiences of the frontier as well.

Cooper was sent to Yale in 1801 but he was expelled in 1805 for setting off an explosion in another student's room. Afterward, as a midshipman in the fledgling U.S. Navy, he made Atlantic passages and served at an isolated post on Lake Ontario. Cooper resigned his commission in 1811 to marry Susan Augusta De Lancey, the daughter of a wealthy New York State family. During the next decade, however, a series of bad investments and legal entanglements reduced his inheritance to the verge of bankruptcy.

Cooper was already 30 years old when, on a dare from his wife, he became a writer. One evening he threw down, in disgust, a novel he was reading aloud to her, saying he could write a better book himself. Susan, who knew that he disliked writing even letters, expressed her doubts. To prove her wrong he wrote Precaution, which was published anonymously in 1820. Encouraged by favorable reviews, Cooper wrote other books in quick succession, and by the time The Last of the Mohicans, his sixth novel, was published in 1827, he was internationally famous as America's first professionally successful novelist. Eventually he published 32 novels, as well as travel books and histories. Cooper invented the genre of nautical fiction, and in the figure of Nathaniel or "Natty" Bumppo (Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans) -- the central character in the five Leatherstocking Tales Cooper published between 1823 and 1841 -- he gave American fiction its first great hero.

Shortly after publishing The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper moved his family to Europe, but in 1833 he returned to America, moving back into his father's restored Mansion House in Cooperstown. He died there on September 14, 1851.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

Good To Know

Cooper was expelled from Yale due to his passion for pranks, which included training a donkey to sit in a professor's chair and setting a fellow student's room on fire.

Between 1822 and 1826 Cooper lived in New York City, and was a major player on its intellectual scene. He founded the Bread and Cheese Club, which had many high-profile members, including notable painters of the Hudson River School and writers like William Cullen Bryant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 15, 1789
    2. Place of Birth:
      Burlington, New Jersey
    1. Date of Death:
      September 14, 1851
    2. Place of Death:
      Cooperstown, New York
    1. Education:
      Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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  • Posted November 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "These friars of Limburg ... say the shortest prayers of any monks in Christendom!"

    The appearance in September 1832 of James Fenimore Cooper's THE HEIDENMAUER has been described by Hugh MacDougall as "an instant flop." It was not much read then and is less so now. It is a novel but feels more like a collection of not at all bad tracts on themes historical, religious, moral, political and psychological. As a novel it has wisps of the Gothic about it: worldly monks, castle dungeons, ghost sightings and ruins of an old Roman camp high above the Rhine better not visited at night. <BR/><BR/>What do scholars and general readers alike find in THE HEIDENMAUER? It is clearly a project to explain Europe and its history to Americans of 1832. It is also an effort to unravel why many in Germany in the 1520s went over to the ideas of Martin Luther and why many did not. What is the psychology of loyalty and disloyalty to ancient institutions: to the Catholic church, to the feudal order? The demand for purer living by professedly Christian men and women is part of any reform impulse in any religion. Two young friends, Gottlob, cowherd of Count Emich of Leiningen and Berchthold, forester of the Benedictine Abbot of Limburg, are discussing Gottlob's allowing his cattle to feed illegally in the pastures of the monks. Gottlob argues in his defense:<BR/><BR/>"Look you, Master Berchthold, these friars of Limburg eat the fattest venison, drink the warmest wine and say the shortest prayers of any monks in Christendom! Potz-Tausend! There are some who accuse them, too, of shriving the prettiest girls!" (Ch. 1)<BR/><BR/>Later, as the Count and his Luther-leaning followers from the village of Bad Duerkheim lay waste the abbey, local love and respect for the abbey's Prior/second-in-command, a Christian true to his high principles, Father Arnolph briefly stayed the destruction. Author Fenimore Cooper speculates: "All near the Abbey of Limburg had felt the influence of these high qualities in Father Arnulph, and it is more than probable that, as in the case of the city of Canaan, had the community counted four of his spiritual peers, the abbey would not have fallen" (Ch. 21).<BR/><BR/>At tale's end Cooper invokes Aesop to provide the moral for the political fate of the villagers of Duerkheim who had supported the efforts of Count Emich to replace the abbot as their ruler. It was a case of King Log being replaced by King Stork. Zeus's appointed King Log had left the peaceful frogs alone. But when they asked for a more powerful ruler, Zeus gave them a stork who at his leisure devoured them one by one (Ch. 31).<BR/><BR/>So what is this novel beyond a simple tale of a Count who successfully scatters his Benedictine rivals in a bid for supreme local power? Cooper tells us, in the very last words of the novel:<BR/><BR/>"Our object has been to show, by a rapidly traced picture of life, the reluctant manner in which the mind of man abandons old, to receive new, impressions -- the inconsistencies between profession and practice -- the error in confounding the good with the bad, in any sect or persuasion -- the common and governing principles that control the selfish, under every shade and degree of existence -- and the high and immutable qualities of the good, the virtuous, and of the really noble" (Ch. 31).<BR/><BR/>The HEIDENMAUER does not feel like a novel. But it is a book well worth reading and rereading for its attempts to explain Europe and Catholicism to Protestant Americans of the depressing year 1832. -OOO-

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