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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 41

abound in prejudices and arguments that continually break the strong current of romantic narrative or disturb the broad picture of reality. All his better achievements after 1830 came on those occasions when he could escape from contemporary New York to the ocean or to the old frontier. The ocean was an important relief. In 1839 he published his solid and long-standard History of the Navy of the United States, and followed it with various naval biographies. The History, indeed, led to a furious legal battle, but generally Cooper left his quarrels behind him when he went upon the sea. As a cosmopolitan, he felt freer on the public highway of the nations. His novels of this period and theme are uneven in merit. The Two Admirals (1842) contains one of his best naval battles; The Wing-and-Wing (1842) ranks high among his sea tales, richly romantic and glowing with the splendors of the Mediterranean, and yet charged with the theological bigotry which latterly possessed Cooper. The two parts of Afloat and Ashore (1844), dealing powerfully as they do with the evils of impressment, are notable also for sea fights and chases. And the inland frontier was quite as much a relief. Wyandotté (1843), its scene on the upper Susquehanna, and its subject the siege of a block house, though clumsily told is full of interesting matter. The Oak Openings (1848), fruit of a journey which Cooper made to the West in 1847, is a tale of bee-hunting and Indian fighting on Lake Michigan which has not deserved to be so much obscured as it has been by his greatest frontier stories.
  Obscured it and its fellows have been, however, by The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841), which he



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