“For anyone who works on Cooper’s sea novels, the publication of Afloat and Ashore is a significant contribution to Cooper scholarship, making available an
important text from Cooper’s late career. While it is not surprising that scholarly attention has long focused on the Leather-Stocking and frontier novels, it is often
forgotten that Cooper invented the sea novel, making the maritime world as powerful and evocative as the frontier world. This edition of Afloat and Ashore, I expect, will reintroduce readers to an entirely new Cooper.”
—Luis A. Iglesias, Resources for American Literary Study
First published in 1844, Afloat and Ashore is one of Cooper’s most engaging novels. The narrative chronicles the adventures of Miles Wallingford, who runs away to sea from his upstate New York home to embark on a career as merchant sailor – first as a seaman before the mast and at last as master and owner of his own ship. Miles’s maritime career takes him across the Atlantic and into the Pacific as he follows the trade routes of American mariners in the first decades of the young republic. He runs the hazards of life at sea in the era of the Napoleonic wars. Intervals ashore, whether in New York, London, or the Far East, involve him in the delights of romance and the perils of financial and legal intrigue. Throughout the novel, Cooper draws upon his expert knowledge of maritime history as well as upon his own early experience as a merchant sailor and naval midshipman to lend his tale an unmatched air of authenticity.
The two-volume AMS edition, prepared by Marianne Philbrick and Thomas L. Philbrick and awarded with the seal of approval of the Committee on Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association of America, is the latest publication in the ongoing series, The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper under the general editorship of Lance Schachterle. This edition provides the first definitive text of the novel, together with an extensive introduction and comprehensive explanatory notes. Although the second part of the novel sometimes goes under the titles of Miles Wallingford or Lucy Hardinge, this edition, in keeping with Cooper’s practice, applies the single title of Afloat and Ashore to both parts of the novel.