The Red Rover is an exciting sea novel by American writer James Fenimore Cooper. It was originally published in Paris on November 27, 1827, before being published in London three days later on November 30. It was not published in the United States until January 9, 1828, in Philadelphia. Soon after its publication it was adapted for theater both in the United States and in England. The novel follow...
Paperback: 456 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (September 28, 2015)
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ities of the sailor Dick Fid, free black sailor Scipio Africanus and Royal Navy officer James Wilder as they encounter the famous pirate, "The Red Rover". A contemporary reviewer in the North American Review noted how Cooper was particularly good at writing sea novels such as The Red Rover, the sea being his more natural element than what the author calls wilderness novels which focused on an Indian introducing a white man to the wilderness, like The Last of the Mohicans. In addition, The Red Rover presents some of the first serious depictions of characters of African lineage in American literature. The two black characters, Scipio Africanus, a free black sailor, and Cassandra, a slave attendant, throughout the novel remain distanced and separate from their white companions. While all the other main characters end the book with positive outcomes, Scipio finds a tragic end. Therman O'Daniel suggests, that though these are some of the first black characters to be seriously treated in American literature, they still receive unsatisfactory outcomes for all their actions. For Cooper, the sea novel offered an opportunity to blur social barriers between characters. This is particularly evident in his treatment of women, such as a girl disguised as a cabin boy in The Red Rover who is able to function within the crew, even though she is female. Additionally, throughout the novel, a tight friendship exists between Scipio Africanus, fellow sailor Dick Fid, and a Royal Navy officer whom they befriend after saving his life. Though the two men treat him like an officer, deferring to him with respect, they still remain friendly. Cooper is one of the authors credited with helping pioneer the sea novel genre. For him, however, American history before his time hardly offered real maritime tradition to seize in his historical fiction; instead he innovated, writing purely fictional pieces, unlike his novels about other events in American history In 1828, the North American Review reviewed the work, generally praising it. The Review commented "he has, in this instance, done more and better things for his name, than upon any former occasion", also comparing the text and style to that of Sir Walter Scott. The Review also was very critical of the use of the Indian native in wilderness novels and was pleased that Cooper had returned to "his own element" of the Sea from the misuse of the Indian which he was prone to in other novels. However, the reviewer did note, the "Indistinctness" which happens at the closing of scenes, but left that as his only criticism. Modern reviewer Susan Manning, notes that Red Rover, despite being perhaps one of the most successful novels by Cooper for the contemporary 19th century literary circles, is very dry to read for modern readers, "confusing and obscure in places, banal in others; a full quarter of this long narrative elapses, slowly, before anything emerges which could properly be called a story.