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


Page 48

Titan of the breed of Ishmael Bush; the first, if a little beneath Cooper’s best work, is so only because he was never at his best except when he dealt with Leather-Stocking and his fortunes. No other novel by Cooper, or by any other writer, gives so firm and convincing a picture of colonial New York, when Pinkster, the annual holiday of the slaves, was still a great day in Manhattan and at Albany the Patroon still kept up something like baronial state. Even Cooper has no more exciting struggle than that of Corny Littlepage with the icy Hudson. But the special virtue of Satanstoe is a quality Cooper nowhere else displays, a positive winsomeness in the way Littlepage unfolds his memories (now sweetened by many years) and his humorous crotchets in the same words. Unfortunately Cooper did not carry this vein further. With his family and a few friends he lived his latter days in honor and affection, but he held the public at a sour distance, and before his death in 1851 set his face against a reconciliation even in the future by forbidding any biography to be authorized. The published facts of his life leave his personality less known to the general world than that of any other American writer of equal rank.
  This might be somewhat strange, since Cooper was lavish of intrusions into his novels, were it not that he wrote himself down, when he spoke in his own person, as not only a powerful and independent man but also a scolding, angry man, and thus made his most revealing novels his most forbidding ones. One thinks of Scott, who when he shows himself most wins most love. The difference further characterizes the two men. In breadth of sympathies, humanity, geniality, humor, Cooper is less



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