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James Fenimore Cooper: The Later Years
     

James Fenimore Cooper: The Later Years

by Wayne Franklin
 

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A definitive new biography of James Fenimore Cooper, early nineteenth century master of American popular fiction

American author James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) has been credited with inventing and popularizing a wide variety of genre fiction, including the Western, the spy novel, the high seas adventure tale, and the Revolutionary War

Overview

A definitive new biography of James Fenimore Cooper, early nineteenth century master of American popular fiction

American author James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) has been credited with inventing and popularizing a wide variety of genre fiction, including the Western, the spy novel, the high seas adventure tale, and the Revolutionary War romance. America’s first crusading novelist, Cooper reminds us that literature is not a cloistered art; rather, it ought to be intimately engaged with the world.
 
In this second volume of his definitive biography, Wayne Franklin concentrates on the latter half of Cooper’s life, detailing a period of personal and political controversy, far-ranging international travel, and prolific literary creation. We hear of Cooper’s progressive views on race and slavery, his doubts about American expansionism, and his concern about the future prospects of the American Republic, while observing how his groundbreaking career management paved the way for later novelists to make a living through their writing. Franklin offers readers the most comprehensive portrait to date of this underappreciated American literary icon.

Editorial Reviews

Sandra Gustafson
“Cooper’s life and work are in need of a major reappraisal. Wayne Franklin’s biography will undoubtedly be the essential study of Cooper’s life.”— Sandra Gustafson, University of Notre Dame
The Journal of American History - Andrew Burstein
Praise for James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years:
"Franklin creatively and convincingly weaves episodes from Cooper's fiction into the story of his life, demonstrating, in many instances, where the novelist's inspiration came from. This is a richly detailed treatment, encompassing political as well as literary affairs, and a short review cannot do it justice. Anyone interested in examining James Fenimore Cooper's republican credentials will find this book an immensely satisfying read."—Andrew Burstein, The Journal of American History
Lawrence Buell
“The accomplishment of a scholarly lifetime, Wayne Franklin’s splendid biography of James Fenimore Cooper at long last does full justice to the life and career of the nation’s first major novelist, whose international influence endures to this day.”—Lawrence Buell, Harvard University
H. Daniel Peck
"For a writer of Cooper’s undeniable status in our letters, it’s remarkable that he hasn’t until now had a full-scale biography. This beautifully written book is a great scholarly achievement.  Cooper has finally gotten his definitive biography.”— H. Daniel Peck, Vassar College
Allan Axelrad
“Franklin’s book is in a class by itself. It will be the definitive biography and foremost study of Cooper’s fiction and nonfiction for the foreseeable future.”— Allan Axelrad, California State University, Fullerton
Christopher Benfey
Praise for James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years:
“[A] leisurely and deeply researched canvassing of the first half of Cooper's life…”—Christopher Benfey, The New Republic
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2017-01-24
The second volume of a majestic biography covers the 19th-century author's most productive decades.In 1826, Cooper (1789-1851) and his family sailed to Europe, where they traveled for the next seven years before returning to America in 1833. Franklin (English/Univ. of Connecticut; James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years, 2007, etc.) begins his engrossing, sharply perceptive narrative with this sojourn, which proved crucial in shaping Cooper's artistic aims, professional identity, and political views for the next quarter century. Despite recent successes, the author of The Last of the Mohicans, published just before he left America, was never certain that literature was a viable means of support, and Franklin focuses on Cooper's ongoing efforts to manage the complex and often stressful business of writing. He provides a rich personal, cultural, and political context for all of Cooper's work, including plans that never came to fruition. Cooper could be a difficult man—"urbanity is not his forte," one acquaintance remarked—and his opinions on politics and religion incited some virulent responses. A staunch defender of the American republic against European detractors, Cooper evolved into a critic of what he saw as oligarchic values: "money is a bad foundation for power," he announced. While in Europe, wounded by critical attacks in the press, Cooper announced that he was giving up writing fiction entirely. But he did not: he needed the income, Franklin says, and the rhythm of his life revolved around writing. Moreover, he had become so deeply "a fixture of the national imaginary" that his countrymen "would not consent" to his giving up. Prolific and apparently tireless, he incorporated political critique into many of his later novels. Even as the literary marketplace changed, Cooper "remained a vital force." Franklin's erudition is astonishing: his sources afford him an intimacy that is rare in any biography, and yet his voice is modest and even speculative at times. He does not pretend to know more than what is possible. Nevertheless, this is a masterful biography that well deserves to be called definitive. It is unimaginable that any life of Cooper will surpass this fascinating book.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300135718
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
04/25/2017
Pages:
840
Sales rank:
872,180
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.10(d)

Meet the Author

Wayne Franklin is professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. His biography James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title in 2008 by the AAUP and Choice magazine. He lives in Hebron, CT.

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