Sunday, July 02, 2017

Surprise of the Day: Cowen and Deerslayer

We didn't often get off the farm, except to go to town.  One time I particularly remember is a trip to Cooperstown, sometime in late summer after the hay was in the barn and before moving the old hens out and the pullets off the range into the henhouses.

Anyhow we visited the Baseball museum and the Farmer Museum--mom was particularly into the latter, much to my sister's disgust. Mom had grown up on a farm pre-WWI so all the tools brought back memories.  The museum is on the site of the old Cooper farm, so the store had some books on him.  I successfully argued to buy one, IIRC a child's biography of James Fenimore, perhaps my first book purchased in a store not a Christmas present.

My sister got into Cooper at some point, so I followed along.  I''m not sure whether I was reading her books, or from the school library, but I read a number, not just the Leatherstocking ones, but some of his sea books as well.

So I had an affection for Cooper.  Over the years it's pained me to see his reputation among scholars decline, so today, when Tyler Cowen wrote this, it was a big surprise:
"Yes,I mean the book by James Fenimore Cooper.  I am reading it for the first time and it is much better than I had expected.  Mark Twain’s mockery of Cooper led me wrong, as I let it turn me away from being an appreciator.  And for all the more recent talk of the book being archaic and racist, I am finding it surprisingly sophisticated...."

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