Homeward Bound. Or, The Chase. A Tale of the Sea (1838) marks Cooper’s transition into a remarkable creative phase that produced not just the “sequel” to this novel, Home as Found, but also The Deerslayer, The Littlepage Manuscripts, and The Crater.
Set in the 1830s when Cooper himself had returned to the United States, Homeward Bound tells the story of a small group of passengers at sea, including the modern-day Effinghams—the descendants of the protagonists of The Pioneers. Cooper provides the requisite romance and excitement (a shipwreck and battle with Arabs), but his real concern is personal: What has happened to the U.S. during the years of the Jackson Administration, when he (like the Effinghams) was in Europe? What does the future hold when a democratic public listens to the demagogues of the press more than its own conscience or laws?
Though long overshadowed by Home as Found, which provoked an outcry from Cooper’s political enemies, Homeward Bound is a still-timely meditation on the relationship between authority and individual desire, the idea of the United States as a diverse political and cultural entity, and the emergent power of the press to fashion “truth” for its readers.
As with all other AMS-published editions of The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper, Homeward Bound will be edited to meet the exacting standards of the MLA’s Committee on Scholarly Editions.
Stephen Carl Arch has prepared the critical text and apparatus, historical introduction, and explanatory notes, based on the extant holograph at the Beinecke Library, Yale, and on the amanuensis text at the New York Public Library. Arch is the author of two books on early American literature, the editor of Ethan Allen’s captivity narrative, and several recent articles on James Fenimore Cooper. He is professor of English at Michigan State University.