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Cooper, James Fenimore

Entry updated 9 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1789-1851) US author, best known for the Leather-Stocking Tales sequence in a gentlemanly frontier-adventure tale style, a set of essentially nonfantastic proto-Westerns which includes The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and many other widely read novels featuring the woodsman Natty Bumppo; he also wrote several Gothic tales containing supernatural elements, like the broad hints that the protagonist of The Spy, a Tale of the Neutral Ground (1821 2vols) may be the Wandering Jew. In Cooper's sf novel, The Monikins: A Tale (1835 3vols), an English "gentleman" purchases several captured citizens of an articulate monkey civilization (see Apes as Human; Imperialism; Slavery) located in the Leap Islands Archipelago abutting Antarctica; the several islands comprise together a Lost World whose Colour-Coded inhabitants tolerate a government whose main role seems to be to shape and monitor opinion, in a manner clearly Satirical of European civilization [for Colour-Coding see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. The "gentleman" is so impressed by their account that he returns to the Leap Islands with his prisoners, only to find – as in other Proto-SF tales of this sort – that he has been dreaming (see Clichés).

Mark's Reef; Or, the Crater: A Tale of the Pacific (1847 3 volumes UK; vt The Crater, or Vulcan's Peak: A Tale of the Pacific 1847 2vols) is a Robinsonade set on the variously named volcanic reef or Island where – after shipwreck and travails, and the reappearance of Mark's lost companion with his wife and family – a so-called Utopia is created, though it is clear that its egalitarian reformist precepts are treated Satirically; the island eventually sinks. [JC]

James Fenimore Cooper

born Burlington, New Jersey: 15 September 1789

died Cooperstown, New York: 14 September 1851



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