The Pilot

The Pilot

by James Fenimore Cooper
     
 

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Having drawn on local knowledge and private information for The Spy and on his own boyhood experiences for The Pioneers, it was inevitable that Cooper would seek a way to convert yet another area of his special knowledge into art. His first choice of career had been the U.S. Navy, in which he served as a midshipman from 1808 to 1810.

In 1823, Cooper began writing

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Overview

Having drawn on local knowledge and private information for The Spy and on his own boyhood experiences for The Pioneers, it was inevitable that Cooper would seek a way to convert yet another area of his special knowledge into art. His first choice of career had been the U.S. Navy, in which he served as a midshipman from 1808 to 1810.

In 1823, Cooper began writing The Pilot, which he saw as a sea novel that seamen would appreciate for its fidelity and yet one that landsmen could understand.

“Cooper’s poetic power is reserved for the sea, which is no backdrop but a separate world with forces and laws of its own. The individuation of the ships, particularly the personification of the Ariel, contributes to the magic, but the exhilaration of the book comes from the triumph of human skill and intelligence over the uncertainties and downright hostilities of a world of waves, winds, and hidden reefs. The land offers neither a comparable challenge nor so heady a victory.” — from the Introduction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780873954150
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
08/01/1986
Series:
Writings of James Fenimore Cooper Series
Pages:
528

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Meet the Author

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.

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Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 15, 1789
Date of Death:
September 14, 1851
Place of Birth:
Burlington, New Jersey
Place of Death:
Cooperstown, New York
Education:
Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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