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Posted December 10, 2010
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In his Introduction to Fenimore Cooper's THE WING-AND-WING, editor Thomas Philbrick says that Cooper once contemplated personifying sailing vessels and making them "the characters and all the action derived from their evolutions". He adds that the little 180 ton French privateer, le Feu Follet ("jack o'lantern") becomes so captivating as to seem alive and intelligent. Other commentators on Cooper's ten sea adventure tales note that it is an evil, certainly a rare, sailing ship whose crew do not love it like a woman. This sense of personification is behind Sancho Panza's comment to Don Quixote: "We class a vessel among animals." Indeed, ships are not mere animals but people, too! *** The externals of a book are not the book. But how they can add or detract! For externals I cannot commend too highly the 1998 Henry Holt/Owl Books edition of THE WING-AND-WING. *** -- The color "portrait" by renowned sailing ship depictor Geoff Hunt could be the very Feu Follet sailing "wing-and-wing" (i. e., sails spread beyond both sides of the ship) with the island of Elba in the background. -- Who among today's readers is a master of the rigging and paraphernalia of sailing vessels of August and September 1799? A sailor himself, Cooper liberally sprinkles his text with nautical terms like "bearings." Fortunately, a note among scores by editor Philbrick informs that this is "the widest part of the underbody of the hull." -- We also have two pages of maps (with insets) by cartographer Jeffrey Ward of the Tyrrhenian Sea west of Italy. Every place described in the novel is clearly depicted, including the Island of the Sirens in the Gulf of Salerno, scene of the novel's memorable final battle by land and by sea. This is the edition you want to read. *** The WING-AND-WING is not a bare bones novel. *** -- It has a tragic romance of 26-year old atheistic French privateer Raoul Yvard and pious Italian 19-year old beauty Ghita Carracioli. Ghita loves Raoul passionately but not enough to marry him, fearing he would tempt her away from love of God. -- The novel also has two high comic Italian characters, the Vice-Governor of Elba and his podesta (chief magistrate). It is during a debate the two hold aboard a British warship that captured Raoul makes his daring escape with his first mate, wily England-hating Ithuel Bolt. The two Italians were discussing Bishop Berkeley and arguing whether the world is or is not delusion -- a theme given great meaning at novel's end in reflections on the fate of a dying sailor. -- THE WING-AND-WING is a novel of injustice: British Admiral Nelson's vengeful hanging from the yardarm of a ship of an historial Italian prince who, it turns out, is fictional Ghita's grandfather. And Granite Stater Ithuel Bolt is one of thousands of American seamen illegally seized at sea and "impressed," i. e., made to serve on British warships, theoretically until they can prove their non-British citizenship. The resultant hate of Ithuel Bolt costs many a British life in the novel. -- Vintage elements of Cooper's LEATHERSTOCKING TALES and Sea Tales are in this novel: pursuit, ambush, capture, escape, conflict by land or by sea. And this is a tale of the age of Bonaparte, when one man from Corsica held Europe in suspense about its fate. *** On all these levels, THE WING-AND-WING is one of the finest books I have read in the past five
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Posted September 26, 2013
Posted January 12, 2013
Cora remembered her mother before the divorce. While her father was out, drinking and gambling, she would make home-made popcorn and kool aid. They would pick a comical Disney movie to watch, and they would laugh and bond. One of those times stuck out the most. It was when she'd been young. They'd been watching Cinderella, when mom said "You know, princesses get anything they want." Cora had been young, only seven. "If I was a princess, could I get a good daddy?" She'd asked. Her mother hadn't responded. When she was eleven, her parents had a fight. Cora hadn't understood what they had been talking about then, but she did now. Her father had come home drunk, and she'd been told to go upstairs by her mother, but she chose to eavesdrop on the stairs. It turned violent, and she'd been forced to call 911 because no one else could. Her mother had won custody over her, and her father had been in jail for three years, then vanished from the country. Cora thought their troubles had been over, but her mother became depressed and tempermental. Her father's absence changed Cora, too. She hung around with different friends. They offered her alcohol, and she'd gotten drunk once, but swore off of the stuff after vomiting up her hangover for two days. She never smoked like they did, but she began a bad habit of her own. She stole her first item from a Sheetz, and forever titled herself a kleptomaniac. Cora lived that way for three years, before she got caught. She thankfully didn't go to jail, but for once, her mother noticed what she was doing. Maybe that's why she did it. Maybe she just wanted attention. She had an arguement with her mom. That was what made Cora leave. "You're becoming just like your father!" Her mother had said. "How can you say that?!" Cora replied, horrified and failing to hold back tears. Her mother was on a role now, her murky green eyes ablaze. "And I've made up my mind to send you to Coates Academy next year!" Her mother finished, sounding almost triumphant. Cora had been horrified. She'd locked herself in her room and fasted for two and a half days before she'd broken from the need of water. The caring, kind person that used to be her mother hadn't bothered to check on her during that time, so she'd made up her mind to run away to the neighboring town. She would stay there until they found her, then find the next town to hide in. So, Cora had used her kleptomaniac traits and stolen money and supplies from her home and mother. "I doubt she'll even notice that I left," Cora had muttered before getting on a bus to where ever fate would take her.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.