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Then it was on to Yale University , where studies were not among James' highest priorities. He was asked to leave in his third year. No matter, really. James enjoyed not only his father's financial backing, but that of his father-in-law as well, each seeing to it that the silver spoon would remain untarnished.

Thus, in the manner of a country squire, James produced his first work, Precaution , a story that relied upon traditional flight and pursuit themes set against the high seas of the Atlantic and unknown frontiers to the west. Although the book would not be classified as his best, James soon became one of the young nation's most popular romantic writers of fiction.

Cooper's second try, The Spy , a fascinating tale of the not-so-long-ago War of Independence , was based on the adventures of an agent during the British occupation of New York. Various scholars aver that in The Spy , American fiction is said to have come of age, with love of country as its theme, and its hero, a spy who had served John Jay against the British.

In , Cooper published The Pioneers , whose hero was an old scout living in a frontier village with his loyal Indian companion, Chingachgook. That novel was quickly followed the same year by a hearty seafaring tale, flush with romance, The Pilot , a novel reminiscent of the brooding Byronic style. The story drew upon Cooper's brief experiences as a midshipman in the ersatz navy of his time, and starred John Paul Jones as the leader of the pack. Bunker Hill in Boston was the setting for Lionel Lincoln , not one of his better works.

However, Cooper rebounded to create his immortal character, "Hawkeye," who springs to life the following year, in The Last of the Mohicans and his adventures during the French and Indian War in the Lake George area. Cooper abroad. Beginning in and continuing until , Cooper traveled throughout Europe, with his headquarters in Paris. While in Europe, Cooper extolled the virtues of American-style democracy, in Notions of the Americans Cooper also published a number of romances set in the U.

Cooper's adventures through the German countryside prompted the novels The Bravo , The Heidenmauer , and The Headsman , which satirized the feudalism of the day, spiced with romanticism typical of the Cooper style. He defended his stance on the rights of the genteel and the concept of "The Gentleman.

His fictitious frontier hero Bumppo is never called by his name, but is instead referred to as "the trapper" or "the old man. It depicts Natty in the final year of his life still proving helpful to people in distress on the American frontier. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Kansas Territory , United States.


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  6. More filters. Sort order. Apr 18, Werner rated it liked it Recommends it for: Fans of 19th-century literature, or of historical fiction. Shelves: classics , historical-fiction. Taking place in the then trackless expanses of the Louisiana Purchase territory, somewhere about miles west of the Mississippi, in , this novel is actually set in Cooper's own lifetime, as was The Pioneers.

    In , the author would have been in his teens. I've classified it, somewhat loosely and inaccurately, as "historical fiction" in order to keep the series together on my shelves. At the opening of the book, series protagonist Natty Bumpo is now 87 years old, frailer and less keen Taking place in the then trackless expanses of the Louisiana Purchase territory, somewhere about miles west of the Mississippi, in , this novel is actually set in Cooper's own lifetime, as was The Pioneers.

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    At the opening of the book, series protagonist Natty Bumpo is now 87 years old, frailer and less keen eyed than he used to be, and reduced to trapping rather than hunting. He's still independent and self-reliant, though, and has come out onto the Great Plains, forsaking his beloved forests, to escape the inroads and depredations of dubiously-"civilized" settlement. But his tranquil solitude, which already has to be shared with not-necessarily-friendly Indians, is rudely disturbed at the outset by the arrival in his neighborhood of Ishmael Bush and his redneck clan, driven out of Kentucky for squatting on land to which they had no claim, and looking for more land where they can do the same.

    Other newcomers follow in their train, setting up a tale that involves kidnapping, murder, Indian warfare, and some chaste romance. Published in , this novel has more affinity, stylistically and in terms of craftsmanship, with other early Cooper works, especially The Last of the Mohicans , than with the more mature works of the early s, The Deerslayer and The Pathfinder. It's not as polished, and the tendency towards dialogue that's unrealistically ornate and wordy, which is so marked in The Last of the Mohicans , is really noticeable here too.

    Though again, as in the latter book, the character with the most ridiculously pompous dialogue is intended as comic relief; would-be naturalist Obed Bat --okay, we'll humor him and say "Dr.

    Prairie Tale by James Fenimore, Used - AbeBooks

    Battius," though his doctorate is most likely self-awarded! Likewise, there are plotting problems: the motivation for one key plot contrivance is unclear, and maybe dubious; the logistics of Paul Hover's wild honey trade, in this situation, don't ring true; and Capt. Duncan Uncas Middleton grandson of Duncan Heyward!

    Coincidence is used implausibly in a couple of places; and I felt that some of Ellen Wades' actions were out of character or contradictory. It's true that many real-life people in this era, unlike today, actually took giving their word or swearing an oath seriously, even if it subsequently proved inconvenient; and there are other 19th-century novels that also extol this --correctly, IMO!

    Praise for the Print Edition

    But I don't think a commitment exacted forcibly has the same moral status, especially if it's against the interests of an innocent. A few of the characterizations are not particularly sharp though some of them are, not least Natty's. That said, though, I still liked the novel.


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    Cooper's literary vision, here and in the other novels of the series, is very much of a piece. The storytelling is vivid, full of incident, and in many places genuinely suspenseful. Exciting action is one of the author's strengths. He deserves credit here for a portrayal of Native Americans which is realistic and balanced, not a racist hatchet job; their warlike attitudes and sometimes grisly accompanying behaviors, male chauvinism and use of duplicity as an in their view legitimate tactic of war are recognized, but so are the more laudable aspects of their culture, and individuals of the race display the full gamut of moral possibilities, from contemptible to very admirable.

    We also have, in the person of Inez, a Roman Catholic character who's sympathetic rather than demonized; and while Cooper is himself clearly a Protestant, he doesn't treat Catholicism invidiously, in the way that many Protestants in the much less ecumenical s undoubtedly would have. For much of the novel, I was inclined to fault him for having some characters know something they apparently couldn't have; but this is actually not the case, as is explained to good effect near the end.

    Finally, there are some scenes here that are extremely moving, in one way or another, ranking in emotional power among the author's best. View 2 comments. Aug 28, Fabian rated it it was ok. Not the case with this, the last of the Leatherstocking tales. It's not for modern readers. At all. While the actions of all the characters seem to occur in slow motion, dialogue is also the device used to slow down the pace of the narrative.

    Natty Bumppo then becomes part of the human drama he has so evidently avoided in the past, paralleling his distaste for the sound of ax chopping wood. Does Fenimore Cooper say that woods-people, deer slayers, trappers, hunters, all easily assimilate to newly forming societies? There is a pervasive type of hesitation throughout the tale, in the manner the characters expose themselves, in the way the narrative is overabundant with words and extraneously extended descriptions. I loathed having to read it for class, spending time with it was as futile as, gasp, having to spend time with anything by the likes of Ayn Rand.

    Inviting headaches, it's an infuriating experience. I have now read the entire Leatherstocking Tales and regret to say that I rank The Prairie next to last on the good book scale for that series.

    My disappointment with The Prairie lay in the plot itself, not the message. Cooper unabashedly criticized western expansion at a time when the nation believed it had a divine right to displace the o I have now read the entire Leatherstocking Tales and regret to say that I rank The Prairie next to last on the good book scale for that series. Cooper unabashedly criticized western expansion at a time when the nation believed it had a divine right to displace the original inhabitants of this land to fulfill its own destiny. Unfortuately, the story is weak and the characters are for the most part uninspiring.

    Although The Prairie moves slowly the dialogue can be very lively, particularly in Chapter Nine.

    James Fenimore Cooper Life & Works

    For example, when Dr. You are of the class Mammalia, order Primates, genus Homo, species Kentucky. Paul Hover and Ellen Wade are likeable. Battius is entertaining. However Captain Middleton pales in the shadow of his grandfather Duncan from The Last of the Mohicans , and his wife Inez is little more than an early 19th century caricature of a Roman Catholic. Bush was bound by no laws but his own, which he imposed on everyone else. The Prairie would have been a far more interesting and logical story if the plot had only been the conflict between the Sioux and Pawnee chiefs Mahtoree and Hard Heart.

    Too often Cooper creates a natural or man- made structure around which the action occurs and devotes too many pages to the minutiae of its description.

    Prairie Tale by James Fenimore, Used

    He does so again in The Prairie , this time plunking a rocky promontory, a thicket and a river conveniently in the middle of the plains. However, in The Prairie Natty and friends escape from the Sioux not once, not twice, but three times! It is also amusing that Natty always has time to soliloquize in the face of immediate danger. The other characters catch on quickly and cut his speeches short right up until the end.

    I read the paperback edition of The Prairie , which was the only one available at my local library. On the inside cover it was noted that the book had been a gift! It took me so long to read the book that by the time I finally finished it looked as if it had been in a buffalo stampede. Still, a paperback Cooper is better than no Cooper at all. Jan 04, Richard Thompson rated it really liked it Shelves: american-literature. The only other one of the Leatherstocking Tales that I have read is Last of the Mohicans, which is much more famous than The Prairie, but to my mind not nearly as good.