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Cooper, James Fenimore

period scott sea white

(US, 1789–1851)

Born in New Jersey, Cooper's early experiences at sea and on the family farm gave him contacts with Indians, settlers, and forest life along the Susquehanna river, which fed into his books. Initially he was under the influence of Sir Walter Scott's historical romances and his first successful novel, The Spy (1821), is set during the Revolutionary War period. Cooper's great achievement was in fictionalizing the American frontier in the five novels of the Leather-Stocking saga, each featuring the white woodsman Natty Bumppo, also known as Hawkeye or Pathfinder, alongside his Indian companion Chingachgook. It begins with The Pioneers (1823) and continues with the best known, The Last of the Mohicans (1826), whose central episode is the rescue of an abducted white woman. Each novel depicts a different stage in the westward settlement of America, and is an exciting adventure, encountering Indian tribes, often viewed sympathetically, and the enemy French. The later volumes such as The Pathfinder (1840), which returns to the period of Natty's youth, are more sentimental and lyrically descriptive.

Walter Scott, Jack London. See THE SEA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA  JS

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