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


Page 38

him. In Paris he fraternized with Scott, who enjoyed and approved his American rival. Parts of Cooper’s stay were in England, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, which delighted and astonished him, and Italy, which he loved. Most of his time, however, he passed at Paris, charmed with a gayer and more brilliant society than he had known before. At first his nationalism was intensified. Unabashedly, outspokenly American, he had obtained from Henry Clay the post of consul at Lyons, that he might not seem, during his travels, a man without a country. As consul, though his position was purely nominal, he felt called upon to resent the ignorance everywhere shown by Europeans regarding his native land, and he set himself the task of educating them in sounder views. Cooper was not Franklin. Notions of the Americans (1828), while full of information and a rich mine of American opinion for that day, was too obviously partizan to convince those at whom it was aimed. Its proper audience was homesick Americans. He indulged, too, in some controversy at Paris over the relative cost of French and American government which pleased neither nation. Finally, he applied his art to the problem and wrote three novels “in which American opinion should be brought to bear on European facts.” That is, in The Bravo (1831), The Heidenmauer (1832), and The Headsman (1833) he meant to show by proper instances the superiority of democracy to aristocracy as regards general happiness and justice. He claimed to be writing for his countrymen alone, some of whom, in that day of one-sided comparisons between Europe and America, must have been thrilled to come across a passage like



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