This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 Satanstoe (1845), The Chainbearer (1846), and The Redskins (1846). Having tried the autobiographical method with Miles Wallingford in Afloat and ashore, Cooper now repeated it through three generations of a New York family. In the last he involved himself unduly in the question of antirentism and produced a book both fantastic and dull; the second is better by one of Cooper's most powerful figures, the squatter Thousandacres, another Titan of the brood of Ishmael Bush; the first, if a little beneath Cooper's best work, is so only because he was somewhat rarely at his best. No other novel, by Cooper or any other, gives so firm and convincing a picture of colonial New York. Even Cooper has no more exciting struggle than that of Corny Littlepage with the icy Hudson. But the special virtue of Satanstoe is a quality Cooper nowhere else displays, a positive winsomeness in the way Littlepage unfolds his memories (now sweetened by many years) and his humorous crotchets in the same words. There are pages which read almost like those of some vigorous Galt or Goldsmith. Unfortunately, Cooper did not carry this vein further. His comedy Upside down, produced at Burton's Theatre, New York, 18 June, 1850, was a failure, and his last novel, The ways of the hour (1851), lacks every charm of manner. With his family and a few friends he lived his latter days in honour and affection, but he held the public at a sour distance and before his death, 14 September, 1851, set his face against a reconciliation even in the future by forbidding any biography to be authorized. The published facts of his life still leave his personality less known to the general world than that of any American writer of equal rank. This might be somewhat strange, since Cooper was lavish of intrusions into his novels, were it not that he wrote himself down, when he spoke in his own person, not only a powerful and independent man, but a scolding, angry man, and thus made his most revealing novels his least read ones. One thinks of Scott, who, when he shows himself most, wins most love. The difference further characterizes the two men. In breadth of sympathies, humanity, geniality, humour, Cooper is less than Scott. He himself, in his review of Lockhart, said that Scott's great ability lay in taking a legend or historical episode, which Scotland furnished in splendid profusion, and reproducing
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.