Home as Found

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"Home as Found" from James Fenimore Cooper. Prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century (1789-1851).
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"Home as Found" from James Fenimore Cooper. Prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century (1789-1851).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410103963
  • Publisher: Fredonia Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Pages: 456

Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1789 in New Jersey, the son of a wealthy land agent who founded Cooperstown in New York State. Cooper attended Yale, but was expelled in 1805 and spent five years at sea on merchant then naval ships. He married in 1811, and eventually settled in New York. Precaution, Cooper's first novel, was written in 1820 as a study of English manners; its successors, The Spy and The Pilot, written within the next three years, were more characteristic of the vein of military or seagoing romance that was to become typical of him. In 1823 he began the Leatherstocking Tales series of novels, centred on a shared Native American character at different periods of his life, for which he is chiefly remembered. Cooper's reputation as one of America's leading authors was quickly established, and spread to Europe by a long stay there from 1826, making him one of the first American writers popular beyond that country. After his return to America in 1832, however, conservative political essays and novels dramatising similar views, as well as critiques of American society and abuses of democracy, led to a decline in his popularity. James Fenimore Cooper died in 1851.


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 January 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "God never intended an American to kneel."

    On a summer day in May 1836 or thereabout look down from a mountain called The Vision into fictional Templeton, on the shores of beautiful (real) Lake Otsego in central New York. You will see the spires of five churches in a village of a thousand or fewer Christian souls. Templeton (in reality today's Cooperstown) is the ancestral seat of the combined families of Temple (through the daughter of the village's founder) and Effingham (through a young man who married that daughter in the 1790s). Two fifty-year old cousins, Edward and John (Jack) Effingham have just returned home after a dozen years in Europe, Jerusalem and elsewhere. With them is Edward's lovely 20-year old daughter, Eve Effingham. ***

    The Effingham saga is told in three novels by James Fenimore Cooper. The first, THE PIONEERS, appeared in 1823. The second (HOMEWARD BOUND) and third (HOME AS FOUND) were published in 1838 -- years after Fenimore Cooper himself had returned home following eight productive years in Europe. (In England HOME AS FOUND is titled EVE EFFINGHAM.) And much as Wilfred of Ivanhoe is one of the least colorful characters in Sir Walter Scott's IVANHOE, so is Eve Effingham in HOME AS FOUND. At novel's end she will wed a mysterious man first met years ago in Vienna. Then he called himself Paul Powis. On board the ship they all shared in HOMEWARD bound he was Mr Blunt. In an earlier incarnation in the U.S. Navy he was Assheton, the false name under which his father had married Miss Warrender, Paul's mother. By novel's end he is revealed as Paul Effingham, son of John Effingham. The two second cousins wed and produce a little girl. ***

    HOME AS FOUND contains all the riches of Ali Baba's cave: romance, Gothic mysteries, politics, but primarily satire of 1830s American manners as seen by various stripes of English, French and American observers of the passing parade. ***

    Cooper's insights into religion is all we have space to touch on in this review. As noted above, the village of Templeton has five churches and even more religious opinions among local Templetonites, most of them recently arrived "birds of passage," who will soon be off to the west. The aristocratic, immensely wealthy Effinghams are Episcopalians and believe religion is supply-side: about the dignified worship of God. Most of their local interlocutors think otherwise. Churches are demand-side: for the people. The oldest local church should be rebuilt to resemble an amphitheater. No more elevated pulpit or enclosed, high-walled pews. No kneeling. "God never intended an American to kneel," argues lawyer and estate manager Aristabulus Bragg. Americans love variety in creeds. FIve churches attract more investment to a town than would only one. Churches should be built or rebuilt to emphasize preaching and de-emphasize praying. Eve Effingham is shocked. Her religious reputation goes down quickly in Templeton. For Eve dances. She reads her prayers from a book. She plays cards. This can only be French, certainly not American. ***

    Wander about in this novel's cave of Ali Baba. See early canal cars, steamboats and trains. Wonder at women's fashions and the foreign policy of Andrew Jackson. Watch boys play baseball in what may be its first recorded literary record. See Fenimore Cooper skewer Steadfast Dodge, the kind of newspaper magnate who came to dominate American politics. Do not rush through these treasures. They are many. Some are very funny. -OOO-

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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