chapter  5
31 Pages

The Illusion Ascendant: James Fenimore Cooper and the Art of Reconciliation

Clopper, Neal, and Paulding tried in their different, fragmentary ways to come to terms with aspects of their present. Cooper turned to the creation of an American past, although only after a curious Austenian foray into the world of the English aristocracy. Although he later addressed the contemporary scene, and there are inferences and implications to be drawn about that scene from his early romances, they do not directly face it. It would be impossible from Cooper’s novels, prior to his 1826 departure for Europe, to gain the same sense of the state of the nation available from the work of Crèvecoeur, Brackenridge and early Irving.