The Ways of the Hour

The Ways of the Hour

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by James Fenimore Cooper
     
 

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James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 - September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. His historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property he

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Overview

James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 - September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. His historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was founded by his father William on property he owned. Cooper was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and in his later years contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linonian Society, but was expelled for misbehavior.Before embarking on his career as a writer he served in the U.S. Navy as a Midshipman, which greatly influenced many of his novels and other writings. The novel that launched his career was The Spy, a tale about counterespionage set during the Revolutionary War and published in 1821. He also wrote numerous sea stories and his best known works are five historical novels of the frontier period known as the Leatherstocking Tales. Among naval historians Cooper's works on the early U.S. Navy have been well received, but they were sometimes criticized by his contemporaries. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780750911580
Publisher:
Sutton Publishing
Publication date:
04/28/1999
Series:
Pocket Classics Series
Edition description:
POCKET
Pages:
337
Product dimensions:
5.03(w) x 7.77(h) x 0.88(d)

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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The Ways of the Hour 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
James Fenimore Cooper's last novel (1850), THE WAYS OF THE HOUR, is an old man's sometimes grumpy criticism of America in general and New York State in particular. Opinions are debated freely among young and old, refined and uncouth, idealistic and pragmatic and even the sane and not so sane. Some topics debated: -- Does the U.S. Constitution's protection of the institution of slavery make slavery a good idea? (Does this remind you of today's press-supported pubic excitement about a mosque at Ground Zero in Manhattan?) ***** -- Does the New York State constitution, revised in 1846, do well or ill in giving a wife complete control over any wealth she has inherited before marriage? ***** -- Does God intend women to be supremely independent of husbands? ***** -- Is the jury system a perversion of justice when jurors increasingly glory in ignoring a judge's instruction as to the law's meaning? ***** -- Is telling the truth the aim of America's "free" press? Or, rather, is making money at any cost the supreme god of journalism? ***** -- Why does the justice system treat convicted criminals more fairly and kindly than it does the innocent -- who may lose fortunes paying lawyers to defend them from malicious renters and jealous neighbors? "It is the innocent who have most reason to dread the law" (Ch.29). ***** All this political and sociological debate is scattered throughout a crime narrative which is reasonably straightforward but also immersed in late Gothic conventions of mysterious ancestry and wealth, a weakened mind, love, courtship and marriage of one aging couple and two young ones. ***** At its narrative core THE WAYS OF THE HOUR (a phrase meaning much the same as "the signs of the time") is a murder mystery and courtroom drama. Two charred bodies are found in a somewhat isolated New York cottage less than 20 miles from downtown New York City. There are witnesses who saw the cottage in flame and a beautiful young woman boarder being assisted to escape by two men who later disappeared. There is flimsy circumstantial evidence, especially a notched foreign gold coin belonging to the dead (or at least disappeared) landlady. This being found in boarder Mary Monson's purse, she stands trial for arson and double murder. Established star of the New York City bar, 60-ish bachelor Thomas Dunscomb is strangely drawn to the mysterious, beautiful obviously wealthy young defendant and represents her in court. ***** Crime scene investigation was in its infancy in the 1840s. But sloppy police investigation does not seem to matter, once public opinion, fanned by the yellow dog press of New York, becomes convinced of the guilt of Mary Monson. There is jury tampering. The accused lives luxuriously in prison, where she plays on a harp like an angel or King David. The lead defense lawyer discovers toward trial's end that Mary is the granddaughter of his one and only love who had jilted him for a richer man. Mary is permitted to cross examine the principal witness against her, regarding Mary's post-crime possession of the notched gold coin known to belong to the disappeared landlady. Mary then proves as good a lawyer as Portia in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE and better even than Perry Mason in applying pressure to a witness. This is a rich, rich novel, deserving more than one reading. -OOO-