The Slaughter Of The Pigeons By Cooper Essay

It turned out that Ann, his only surviving sibling, and her husband had decided to collaborate with Bridgen and Averell in an attempt to safeguard their own inheritance, and this led to further difficulties and losses.

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All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play.

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.

‘He saw nearly all things as through a glass eye, darkly.’ Twain particularly relished Natty’s impossibly accurate marksmanship, which allowed him to shoot, from a distance of a hundred yards, a bullet exactly into the hole made in a tree by a previous bullet ‘’.

The aim of Cooper’s evil Indians is, fortunately, rarely as deadly: when one of his heroes, Duncan Heyward, comes under attack from a band of whooping Hurons, who pour fire at him until his clothes have been ‘repeatedly cut’ by their bullets, he escapes with only a slight wound in his arm.

Like Judge Cooper, Judge Marmaduke Temple has made himself owner by somewhat questionable means of vast tracts of the land around Lake Otsego, land where Natty and Chingachgook had once hunted.

‘I’m form’d for the wilderness’ is Natty’s insistent cry, and he observes the pioneers’ ‘wasty ways’, their destruction of the woods, their slaughter of migrating passenger pigeons, their over-fishing of the lake, with an ever increasing sense of displacement and dispossession.Noting the success of Sir Walter Scott, from whose life and writing he learned so much, Cooper found in fiction a means of restoring his family’s fortunes.His most famous creation was the frontiersman Natty Bumppo, also known as Leatherstocking (on account of his leggings), Hawk-eye (on account of his astonishingly good eyesight), La Longue Carabine (on account of his expertise with his long-barrelled rifle), as well as Pathfinder and Deerslayer.Natty first appears in Cooper’s third novel, (1821), a stirring tale of daring and intrigue drawn from the annals of the Revolution.When Cooper turned his hand to storytelling, supposedly motivated by disgust with a novel he was dutifully reading aloud to his wife, the American fiction industry was very much in its infancy.Unfortunately, the more Cooper earned the more rapaciously he was hounded by such associates as the lawyer Robert Sedgwick, a one-time friend who extracted exorbitant amounts of interest on his loans, and the unsavoury duo of Thomas Bridgen and William Holt Averell, who ended up acquiring, by various devious stratagems, much of the land and property that had made up his father’s estate.Cooper was no naif in such matters, but his situation was formidably complicated: as the youngest of four sons, he had not been personally involved in the management of the Cooper family’s holdings in the decade following the judge’s death in 1809; by 1820, however, his brothers William, Isaac and Samuel had all died prematurely, leaving James liable to a seemingly endless series of claims, as well as partially responsible for numerous nephews and nieces, not to mention his own burgeoning family.‘In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book?’ the British critic Sydney Smith had asked in the , would prove immensely popular the year Smith made his jibe.It was a curious set of circumstances that in 1820 drove James Cooper (the ‘middle surname’ Fenimore would not be added for another six years), the son of one of post-independence America’s wealthiest land speculators, to embark on a career in the dubious and unpredictable world of novel-writing.Almost nothing in Cooper’s life up until that year, in which he turned 31, indicates an interest in fiction, or in the arts.


Comments The Slaughter Of The Pigeons By Cooper Essay

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