Miles Wallingford

Overview

This is the second half (the first, Afloat and Ashore, is also available from CSP) of one of Fenimore Cooper's novelistic diptychs. Like many of his later novels, the forms of his eary fiction are preserved but with a strong undercurrent of social commentary on the America of his time.

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Miles Wallingford

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Overview

This is the second half (the first, Afloat and Ashore, is also available from CSP) of one of Fenimore Cooper's novelistic diptychs. Like many of his later novels, the forms of his eary fiction are preserved but with a strong undercurrent of social commentary on the America of his time.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589635128
  • Publisher: Fredonia Books (NL)
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 0.96 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

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.

Biography

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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "A sunset cannot last forever"

    It is hard to miss the religious and moral growth dimensions of James Fenimore Cooper's 1844 novel, MILES WALLINGFORD. This is the concluding half of a two-part, first person narrative of New York and the world from 1897 to 1844. Part One is AFLOAT AND ASHORE. *****

    The tale's hero, Miles Wallingford, at the close of the first and beginning of the second novel has just rescued from drowning in the Hudson river rich young Manhattanite Andrew Drewett. Andrew is, to all appearances, Miles's successful rival for the hand of Miss Lucy Hardinge, with whom orphaned Miles and his younger sister Grace had been raised after the death of their parents. The appointed guardian of Miles and Grace, till Miles's majority in 1803, is the neighborhood Episcopalian priest, Rev. Mr. Hardinge. Hardinge has a very flawed son, Rupert. Rupert's selfishness propel much of the plot of the two novels. *****

    Traveling toward Saratoga Springs on the same ship as Andrew Drewett are his mother, Rupert Hardinge and Rupert's new fiancee, the charming but calculating Englishwoman Emily Merton. Alas for Miles's ailing 19-year old sister Grace, she is cruising the Hudson with Miles, his favorite slave Neb Clabonny and their old shipmate Moses Marble. Grace had recently been cruelly jilted for Emily by Rupert which whom she had been secretly engaged since age 15. Seeing Rupert once again as the two vessels pass close by and overhearing him say unkind things about her, ultra-sensitive Grace's death comes all the faster. *****

    In her dying days Grace is attended by Rupert's younger sister and her best friend since childhood, Lucy Hardinge as well as by her brother, her domestic slave Chloe and sorrowing black slaves of Clawbonny Farm. Grace forgives Rupert and commands her vengeful brother to do the same. She also commissions him to give $20,000 from her estate to her onetime lover, so that he can start anew with his future bride Emily. Grace's death scene is as Christian as anything in English literature before John Henry Newman's great poem, "The Dream of Gerontius," set to music by Sir Edward Elgar. This call to "love your enemies" resonates through the rest of the novel and inspires the improbably good death of the old mariner Moses Marble. He was never positively evil, but only in his final months at sea with Miles, Lucy and their four children did he find Jesus. *****

    There is far more than religion, romance and moral growth in this novel. The Hudson River comes alive through Cooper's pen. Amid his mixed feelings about saving his rival, he sees for the first time a beautiful stretch of the river at sundown. Alas, however, "A sunset cannot last forever" (Ch. 1). *****

    Roughly 2/3 of MILES WALLINGFORD is about Miles's sea voyaging from Manhattan with goods for Hamburg. It is larded with too much nautical detail. As an American neutral in 1803-4, Miles has to run an impossible gauntlet between warring France and England. He is twice captured, twice escapes, but in the end loses his ship, the Dawn and is a ruined man. For the first time in his life he knows poverty, including debtors prison in Manhattan. *****

    Miles, though a sailor, is a good,Anglican Christian. His faith is tried like Job's and Jonah's. Lucy is always waiting for him, though it takes him far too long to realize. At novel's end they have been happily and fruitfully wed for 40 years. And Miles is on his knees to God.

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