The Prairie

( 13 )

Overview

Infused with imaginative vitality, James Fenimore Cooper's romantic tale of adventure was immediately successful when first published in 1824.
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The Prairie

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Overview

Infused with imaginative vitality, James Fenimore Cooper's romantic tale of adventure was immediately successful when first published in 1824.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873956727
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1985
  • Series: Works of James Fenimore Cooper Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper
Domhnall Martin Mitchell is Professor of Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

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)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Illustrations

Historical Introduction

Preface [1827]

Introduction [1832]

Interpolations in 1832 Introduction [1849]

The Prairie

Textual Commentary

Note on the Manuscripts

Textual Notes

Emendations

Rejected Readings

Word-Division

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2008

    500 Miles West of the Mississippi in 1804

    THE PRAIRIE begins in 1804, 500 miles west of the Mississippi River and ends there a year later. The land now belongs to the USA, after the purchase of Louisiana. Rogers and Clark are exploring farther north. *** Nathaniel 'Natty' Bumppo aka Hawkeye, Deerslayer, Pathfinder and other evolving names is 87 years old. He no longer thinks of himself as a hunter but a simple trapper of furs and hides. He runs afoul of a crude family led by Ishmael Bush, all rugged individualists like himelf. They are traveling with an eccentric medical doctor who is also a naturalist exploring new flora and fauna. They have kidnapped, without the doctor's knowledge, the beautiful daughter of the richest Creole in newly purchased Louisiana. Natty throws in as an ally of various parties: her army Captain fiance who is on her trail, a wandering bee trailer and a large band of benign Pawnees to see justice done. *** In the process of setting free two women unwillingly with the Bushes, Natty and others skirmish with thieving Sioux who set the prairie on fire to trap the rescuers and the two young women, including the refined niece of one of the rascally group. In the end, the paterfamilias of the Bush family squatters does rough frontier justice to all parties, including imposing a brutal death sentence on his wife's brother who had killed their eldest son. *** Read THE PRAIRIE for its description of an American west in which white men were still rare, and for the final months of Natty Bumppo, a haunting figure who catches much of the pioneering American spirit that made America America. The writing is vivid, memorable and the history of the frontier is of seminal importance. -OOO-

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2007

    A great read, though tedious at times!

    I actually enjoyed this more than The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper's most popular book. The Prairie tells a very interesting story, and no detail is too trivial to be excluded. Overall, although it certainly drifted into excess obscurity at times, in a larger scope The Prairie was an extemely rewarding read. It's worthy to note that the historical context of this book seems to be quite accurate.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2011

    ?

    Is it any good?

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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