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James Fenimore Cooper

by GROSSMAN, James

Condition: VG+/VG+

New York: William Sloane Assoc., 1949. American Men of Letters Series; Critic Lawrance Thompson's copy with his notes laid-in; review copy w/slip also laid-in; some underlining and marks penciled by Thompson; 286pp.. First Edition. Hard Cover. VG+/VG+.


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On Nov 7 2010, feeney said:
  "I first read a little way into James Grossman's JAMES FENIMORE COOPER (1789 - 1851) two years ago. At that point, though already continuously immersed in Cooper's writings, I had read only about 20% of that New Yorker's daunting output. Author Grossman in his biography referred to too many books that I had not yet read. This made his biography of Cooper temporarily too unprofitable for me. *** In the interim I have read perhaps 75% of Fenimore Cooper's published output and am still slogging away. I thought, therefore, that it might be time to return to Grossman. And I was right. MORAL: don't read too soon the biography of any writer, when the biographer takes it for granted that you have read most of his subject's output! *** That said, Grossman's 1949 JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, though now six decades old, is a very instructive read for the James Fenimore Cooper devotee. Its merit is to relate Cooper's writings: novels, histories, magazine serials, controversies, etc., tightly to the novelist's evolving life. Cooper comes across as a somewhat unhumorous, unyielding man of principle. Thus he can fault his model as an historical novelist, Sir Walter Scott, for being too indulgent of the foibles of a "worthless" King George IV. Cooper can also reject just about everything New Englanders ever created -- those hypocritical Puritans! *** Naturally, he made a lot of enemies among his American readers -- often for the wrong reasons. For Cooper loved America, held its ideals high; but he was not shy in taking his mother country to task when it became money-grubbing or too deferential to "public opinion." And he fought his foes tooth and nail in the courts, often over petty issues, but usually successfully. *** You feel in a long by-gone musty era when reading Cooper's three novels of the Anti-Rent controversy in New York and elsewhere: SATANSTOE, THE CHAINBEARER and THE REDSKINS. How can this long dead controversy over property rights and deference to landowners gain readers in late 2010 who have cut their teeth on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on "don't ask, don't tell" or the political rise and fall of Nancy Pelosi? But, with a good guide like James Grossman, a reader can fit all this Cooper-specific raw material into the 19th Century America of Andrew Jackson, Federalists, Whigs, the Trail of Tears and western migration -- all of them important to James Fenimore Cooper. *** I liked Grossman's Cooper very much -- once I had read enough Cooper. But it is not, I think, the best biography for beginners. -OOO-"

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