Catalogue


The American Abraham [electronic resource] : James Fenimore Cooper and the frontier patriarch /
Warren Motley.
imprint
Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1987.
description
x, 188 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0521327822
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1987.
isbn
0521327822
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
8357073
 
Bibliography: p. 179-183.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1988-09:
Contending that "the assumption of an organic connection between family and society lies at the center of {Cooper's} historical art," Motley focuses on the figure of the "founding father" in Cooper's life and fiction. He traces the "evolving progression" of Cooper's relation to authority, from his childhood to the establishment of his own family and of his own "claims of authority over the American reading public" to his "frustrations at the loss of public authority at the end of his career." The resulting blend of biographical and formalist readings of Cooper's career is less determinedly psychoanalytic than Stephen Railton's Fenimore Cooper: A Study of His Life and Imagination (CH, Apr '79) and less ideologically committed than the Cooper chapters of Jane Tompkins's Sensational Designs (CH, Nov '85) or Philip Fisher's Hard Facts (CH, May '85). Rather, Motley is interested in the way Cooper used the story of Abraham as "a mythic typology of generational conflict and historical change." One of the pleasures of Motley's book is that lesser-known novels like The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish and The Crater are juxtaposed with The Pioneers and The Prairie. A useful book with a brief bibliography; but the parenthetical documentation is chaotic and often nearly useless for anyone not already familiar with Cooper editions and criticism. Useful for undergraduates and graduate students. -J. D. Wallace, Boston College
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This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 1988
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Summaries
Main Description
In this book Warren Motley offers an original interpretation of James Fenimore Cooper's career. Whereas most studies of Cooper have centered on the figure of the Leatherstocking - that solitary model of the self-sufficient American hero untrammeled by civilization - this book examines Cooper's interest in the pioneer patriarchs who built new societies in the wilderness. Throughout his career Cooper explored an essential American problem: how to achieve the right balance between freedom and authority. He did this by retelling the story of the frontier settlement and thereby assessing its successes and failures. Like other writers in the decades before the Civil War, Cooper struggled with the legacy of the Revolutionary fathers - a legacy made more personal in Cooper's case by his father's role as a frontier land developer, judge, and Federalist politician. This book breaks new ground by relating Cooper's artistic development, and his ideas about authority in society, to his efforts to become independent of his father. Motley traces Cooper's preoccupation with authority from his youthful letters, through the troubled decade that preceded his decision to be a writer, and on to his studies of American history at its different stages in such books as The Wept of Wisb-Ton-Wish, Satanstoe, The Pioneers, The Prairie, and The Crater. By making his fiction into a series of imaginative negotiations with authority, Cooper offered a radical re-presentation of American history and frontier settlement. This view acknowledged the achievement of the nation's founders while at the same time expressing Cooper's independent vision and establishing him in the role of a founder as the nation's first major novelist. In Cooper's fiction, the future of American society ultimately rests not with the Leatherstocking and his fictional progeny but with the American Abraham.
Main Description
In this book Warren Motley offers an original interpretation of James Fenimore Cooper's career. Whereas most studies of Cooper have centered on the figure of the Leatherstocking - that solitary model of the self-sufficient American hero untrammeled by civilization - this book examines Cooper's interest in the pioneer patriarchs who built new societies in the wilderness. Throughout his career Cooper explored an essential American problem: how to achieve the right balance between freedom and authority. He did this by retelling the story of the frontier settlement and thereby assessing its successes and failures. Like other writers in the decades before the Civil War, Cooper struggled with the legacy of the Revolutionary fathers - a legacy made more personal in Cooper's case by his father's role as a frontier land developer, judge, and Federalist politician. This book breaks new ground by relating Cooper's artistic development, and his ideas about authority in society, to his efforts to become independent of his father.
Description for Bookstore
In this book Warren Motley offers an original interpretation of James Fenimore Cooper's career, examining Cooper's interest in the pioneer patriachs who built new societies in the wilderness. Throughout his life Cooper explored the problem of achieving a balance between freedom and authority. Here Motley traces his preoccupation with authority.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Paradigmatic tensions
Family origins and patriarchal designs
Negotiating a place in the patriarchy
The prairie and the family of an Ishmael
Satanstoe
The patriarch as isolato
Notes
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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