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


Page 40

an unbelievably dull satire, were the first fruits of his quarrel. He followed these with five books dealing with his European travels and constantly irritating to both continents. He indulged in a heated altercation with his fellow-townsmen over some land which they thought theirs, though it was certainly his. In 1838 he published a fictitious record, Homeward Bound and its sequel Home as Found, of the disappointment of some Americans who return from Europe with a passion like that with which he had recently returned, and who find America what he had found it; but he appears not to have realized that the colossal priggishness of his returning Americans would make them seem more obnoxious than any qualities he could expose in the Americans at large. With something of the same tactlessness he proclaimed his political philosophy and principles in The American Democrat (1838). Most spectacular of all, he declared war upon the newspapers of New York and went up and down the state suing those that had libeled him. He won most of the suits, but though he silenced his opponents he had put his fame into the hands of persons who, unable to abuse him, could at least neglect him.
  All these controversies checked Cooper’s tendency away from romance and toward realism. How strong that tendency was few of his critics have remarked; as a matter of fact, certain of his latest novels—such as Afloat and Ashore, Wyandotté, Satanstoe—are packed with the most valuable information concerning the manners, opinions, speech, and costumes of their periods. But with Cooper, to be critical was too often to be contentious, and as a result those very novels and others still more largely



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