This collector-quality edition includes the complete text of James Fenimore Cooper's classic tale of the conflicts and complications brought by the movement of settlers out onto the Great Plains 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 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 Prairie," published in 1827, was the third 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 fifth and last chronologically.
Set in 1804, the tale follows the adventures of Natty Bumppo, over 80 years of age and ranging the plains, having departed his home along the now-vanished New York frontier in search of open country. Called "the trapper" or "the old man" and never referred to by name, numerous references to the previous two novels, as well as the stories and characters in the two which would not be written until years later, leave no doubt that the old trapper is the "Leatherstocking." Happening upon a party of settlers heading across the plains, the resourceful old trapper leads his companions through a series of harrowing adventures involving the hostile Teton tribe, the friendly Pawnees, led by the noble warrior Hard Heart, the shiftless settlers Ishmael Bush and Abiram White, the honorable Captain Duncan Uncas Middleton and the bee-hunter, Paul Hover. As in many of Cooper's tales, a romance lies near the center of the story but, as is typical with Cooper, it is secondary to the adventure in his story telling.
While criticized in later years for the use of oversimplified or stereotypical characters, as in his other works Cooper often explores complex themes and values through the juxtaposition of these characters, such as the contrast between the "book smart" Hover and the experienced but under-educated Bumppo, and the relationship of the characters to their environment and their reactions to situations. While Cooper seems inclined to the "noble savage" view of American Indians, they are among the most complex characters in his books, not simply pigeonholed as "good" or "bad". And Cooper's view of the expansion of civilization often seems ambivalent, recognizing the advantages and values of progress, but questioning whether some of the aspects of settling the wilderness really constitute "progress" at all.
Less well-known than "The Last of the Mohicans" or "The Deerslayer", "The Prairie" is an admirable winding-up of the Leatherstocking Tales saga.
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 Prairie" is the third volume in a new series of the complete Leatherstocking Tales to be released by Summit Classic Press in the coming months.