One of the first things that budding scholars of James Fenimore Cooper learn is that he owed a literary debt to Jane Austen. It was Austen, for example, who provided the inspiration for Cooper’s first novel, Precaution (1820), and it was her complex windings into subliminal paradigms he caught and later followed, as his own skills improved.
Yet despite this well-known connection, Victorian distaste for Austen and Cooper consigned both of them to the critical dustbin, obscuring their many connections. Later scholars then ignored the nexus, satisfying themselves with brief allusions to Cooper’s debt to Austen without fully examining their linkages. With The Cooper Connection, Barbara Alice Mann finally gives the many overlapping interests, attitudes, and themes of these two authors the detailed study they deserve.
Both highly principled themselves, neither author could countenance bores, sycophants, or fools for God or state. They skewered pretense, self-importance, and hypocrisy while highlighting the strength of female pairings, especially sisterhoods. Cooper and Austen alike packed their plots with sexual allusion and delighted in placing their heroines in delicate and even suggestive situations, a tack that earned them the unremitting contempt of Mark Twain. The broadest and yet, remarkably, least discussed mutuality in Austen and Cooper clustered about the blurring of the nineteenth-century color line. More gingerly than Cooper, Austen considered the social implications of slavery, but both addressed the impact of racial slippage in the decidedly racist project of empire-building in the nineteenth century.
1. The Sincerest Form of Flattery
2. Afloat in the Angelfish Aquarium: Twain, Cooper, and Austen
3. The “Parade of Morals”: Clergymen: Dogmatic, Daffy, and Prim
4. A Most Beloved Sister: Sisterhood Is Powerful in Austen and Cooper
5. Dirty Girls in Austen and Cooper
6. Dark Brows: Empire, Slavery, and Racial Slippage
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Mann, Barbara Alice, 1947–
The Cooper connection : the influence of Jane Austen on James Fenimore
Cooper / Barbara Alice Mann.
p. cm. — (AMS studies in the nineteenth century, ISSN 0196-657X ; no. 53)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-404-64483-3 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851--Political and social views.
2. Austen, Jane, 1775-1817--Influence.
3. Austen, Jane, 1775-1817--Political and social views.
4. Sex in literature.
5. Social classes in literature.
6. Women in literature.
7. Racism in literature.
8. Literature and society—United States—History—19th century.
9. Literature and society—England—History—19th century.
II. Title: Influence of Jane Austen on James Fenimore Cooper.