James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. He is best remembered as a novelist who wrote numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales, featuring frontiersman Natty Bumppo. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, which many consider to be his masterpiece.
The Pioneersby James Cooper, Summit Press (Editor)
With a large 7.44"x9.69" page size, this Summit Classic edition is printed on hefty 60# bright white paper with a fully
This collector-quality edition includes the complete text of James Fenimore Cooper's classic tale of the conflicts and complications brought by the advance of civilization along the New York frontier in a freshly edited and newly typeset edition.
With a large 7.44"x9.69" page size, this Summit Classic edition is printed on hefty 60# bright white paper with a fully laminated cover featuring an original full color design. Page headers and proper placement of footnotes exemplify the attention to detail given this volume.
"The Pioneers," published in 1823, was the first of James Fenimore Cooper's five novels comprising the "Leatherstocking Tales" saga, although the time period in which the story is set makes it the fourth chronologically.
Set in 1793, the tale opens with a dispute between an elderly Natty Bumppo, called Leatherstocking in this story, and Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton over who killed a buck. Perhaps ahead of his time, Cooper explores the complex themes of land use and stewardship along the rapidly receding frontier in the vicinity of Lake Otsego, New York, and the relationship between the residents of the growing town and the earlier inhabitants of the frontier. This building conflict between Leatherstocking and his close friend, the Mohican Indian Chingachgook, and Judge Temple and the growing settlement provides the impetus for the story, which moves forward to its sadly inevitable conclusion against the backdrop of Cooper's vivid depictions of a frontier which he personally saw vanishing in his youth.
Cooper in fact grew up in Cooperstown, New York, founded by his father, a New Jersey congressman, and many have suggested that this tale is at least partially autobiographical, with the Judge and the character Elizabeth patterned after Cooper's father and a sister. Cooper himself denied these assertions, stating that while the setting reflected his boyhood home the characters were fictional. He seems to have particularly resented the idea that Elizabeth was based on a favorite sister who died young, saying that patterning a fictional character after her would denigrate her memory.
With the publication of "The Spy" in 1821, James Fenimore Cooper became an international figure and the first authentic American novelist, free of the forms and conventions of the British fiction of the day. In a writing career spanning thirty years, over thirty novels and an extensive body of lesser works, with "The Leatherstocking Tales" he became the first great interpreter of the American experience, chronicling the adventures of the indomitable Natty Bumppo, known variously as "Hawkeye," "Deerslayer," "Pathfinder," "Leatherstocking" and other names, from the colonial Indian wars through the early expansion into the vast western plains.
Published between 1823 and 1841, beginning with "The Pioneers" and ending with "The Deerslayer", the tales are set against historical events ranging from 1740 to 1804, with Cooper taking some literary license with the actual chronology of events, probably to avoid having Bumppo ranging the Great Plains at over 90 years of age.
This edition of "The Pioneers" is the second volume in a new series of the complete Leatherstocking Tales to be released by Summit Classic Press in the coming months.
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Though this is the fourth book of the "Leatherstocking Tales" in which Nathaniel Bumppo, alias Deerslayer, Hawkeye, Pathfinder, and Leatherstocking, appears when the five books are arranged in the chronological order of Bumppo's life, it was the first published. I had more trouble slogging through it than any of the first three, and I believe that the reason is simple. The Pioneers was not written about the exploits of Natty Bumppo. Yes, he is a main character in the book, but the plot mainly revolves around Judge Marmaduke Temple, who settled the area of Lake Otsego, NY, with his family and activities as the taming of the wilderness interacts with the needs and wishes of the now seventy-year-old hunter. It is believed that Cooper based the character of Temple on his own father (the founder of Cooperstown, NY) and the character of Natty Bumppo on some hunter whom Judge Cooper encountered. Natty became such a hero that people wanted more novels about him, so Cooper obliged with The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Pathfinder. Those books are about Natty and his exploits. They are filled with excitement and adventure. The Pioneers is said to be "the most realistic of the Leatherstocking Tales." That may be true, but to me it is also the most boring so far. Like many other novels of the nineteenth century, it begins very slowly with a lot of descriptive introduction and background. The last third of the book has more action and thus is more interesting, but, unfortunately, one cannot understand the last third without having to wade through the first two-thirds. Even the afterword in my copy says, "Taken in this context, the novel does not have the appeal of The Deerslayer, in which Natty is presented in all his youthful vigor; The Last of the Mohicans or The Pathfinder, in which he is still in his full strength; or The Prairie, in which he strikes out once more for the Garden of the West and is at last fully portrayed by his creator as one of the really great characters of fiction. But The Pioneers is also the first novel in which Natty appears, and he is obviously not the principle reason why the novel was written. The reader who picks it up, therefore, as just one of the romantic tales of the wilderness scout is in for a disappointment." That is certainly true. Natty is pictured in The Pioneers as a somewhat crotchety and petulant old man, although he is still honest and loyal to a fault. It also seems to me that there is more bad language, with the "d" word and taking the Lord's name in vain, as well as references to drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, than in the previous books. However, it is still an interesting story and fans of Natty Bumppo will not want to miss it.