Product Search   |   Home   |   Login   |   Site Map
Note: All prices in US Dollars
The Pioneers (Penguin Classics)

The Pioneers (Penguin Classics) (Paperback) by James Fenimore Cooper (Author), Donald A. Ringe (Introduction)

Book Page


Product Description

Originally published in 1823, "The Pioneers" is the first of Cooper's five Leatherstocking Tales, and the one that incorporates most fully his own experience of growing up in a town of the American frontier. The heart of the novel is a conflict over who owns America, and by what concept of right. The competing claims of Native Americans, Tory loyalists, roving hunters, and visionary cultivators are pitted against one another in the area of history, and the magical village of Cooper's youth becomes the scene in which a nation's destiny is forged. The novel also marks the invention of his enduring contribution to world literature: "Natty Bumpo, the Leatherstocking".


4 out of 5 stars Portrait of Early American Life, November 27, 2000

By A Customer

This review is from: The Pioneers (Signet classics) (Paperback)

This is the fourth chronologically of the Leatherstocking tales, although the first to be written. It is different from the first three (the ones I've read) of the chronology, it that it contains less (or no) adventure and really just paints a picture of everyday life on the disappearing frontier of 1790's America. Actually, it paints a romanticized picture of the life of the wealthy landowner's family. The setting was modeled after Cooper's father who founded Cooperstown, NY. The book is a blend of "sociology" with a conservation message, making it ahead of its time in that respect. It does contain the elements of Cooper's later writing: it is florid in its descriptions, verbose, and in places contains an undercurrent of racial prejudice. Its language is a mixture of formal and vernacular, some of the vernacular slightly hard for the modern reader to follow. It also contains the "pain in the butt" character (e.g. Harry March in Deerslayer) which Cooper liked to include. In the Pioneers, the character is only mildly annoying.

I found the familiarity of the culture to be amusing and interesting. There is much which hasn't changed in 200 years. Among many examples, there was nearly a "traffic" accident on Christmas Eve, a lawyer trying to drum up a law suit, and the stubborn competitiveness which is both the great strength and the great weakness of our country. This is a very interesting, and educational book, which I highly recommend.

5 out of 5 stars Evocative of America's illustrious past........., April 4, 2003

By  nto62 (Corona, CA USA)

This review is from: The Pioneers (Signet classics) (Paperback)

Marmaduke Temple opens this story as he retrieves his daughter Elizabeth from a boarding school in New York City shortly after the Revolutionary War. As they descend the mid-winter mountains of upstate New York into the valley the Temples call home, they meet the other major characters of the story, Natty Bumppo, Chingachgook, and Oliver Edwards. Cooper prefaces this book by telling us that he wrote it for his pleasure, not ours. As Elizabeth's first night back home consumes 178 pages, I was beginning to take the man at his word, but, from here, an outstanding tale unfolds.

The Pioneers is a book in the romantic style of it's age which also carries contemporary messages. The loss of wilderness and wildlife were already a concern in the late 18th century. As the population shifted westward, Native Americans were supplanted and the wilds they inhabited were methodically tamed. Marmaduke Temple and Natty Bumppo, the conservationists, approach the issue in differing ways. Temple exemplifies the responsible management of natural resources while Bumppo longs for the departure of civilization so that nature may reclaim it's own.

Surrounding the ecological message is a story of a human dimension that, though expectedly formulaic, is nonetheless pleasing to behold. The characters are finely wrought as is the portrait of 18th century American life. Easily transported, the reader will find the descriptions of natural surroundings evocative of period and place.

I was sorry to see the last page, though the last page was masterfully done. While James Fenimore Cooper need not be proclaimed by me as the author of classics, I consider this book one and the same and rate The Pioneers a resounding five stars.

4 out of 5 stars 18th Century Ecologists, January 6, 2003

By  Edward (San Francisco)

This review is from: The Pioneers (Signet classics) (Paperback)

The title page of James Fenimore Cooper's 1823 novel "The Pioneers, or the Sources of the Susquehanna" defines it as "a Descriptive Tale"; and indeed the narrative is more a series of descriptions rather than a straight-forward plot. There is a well-drawn set of characters living quiet country lives. There is a plot "teaser" that is fairly obvious and finally resolved in the penultimate chapter, and there is a vague love triangle that never intensifies. In fact,Cooper seems to be not so much concerned with events as with attitudes. The story opens at Christmastime of 1793, and the settlers discuss the tumult of that year in Paris and the Vendée. (One of their company is an émigré who keeps muttering "Les monstres!" and "Mon pauvre roi!") Unfortunately, Cooper seems to have lost track of his time scheme because several months later in the story it's still 1793. This is one of the Leatherstocking Tales, which means that Nathaniel Bumppo (called Leatherstocking by the newcomers, Hawkeye by the Indians) is one of the major characters. But "The Pioneers", unlike "The Last of the Mohicans", does not involve Natty in dangerous adventures. (Which is just as well -- he's suppose to be 70 years old.) Instead, the novel presents frontier life in central New York at a settlement on Lake Otsego through commonplace but colorful occurrences: a fishing expedition, a turkey shoot, a gathering at the Bold Dragoon, a trial. The remarkable aspect of "The Pioneers", and the reason today's readers will identify with it, is the many arguments for the conservation of natural resources, both flora and fauna.Natty Bumppo's concern is understandable, as he is a man of the wilderness. More surprising is the wealthy entrepreneur Judge Temple's insistence that "we are stripping the forests, as if a single year would replace what we destroy. But the hour approaches when the laws will take notice of not only the woods, but the game they contain also". Later, both he and the Leatherstocking are appalled by the indiscriminate slaughter of birds in a single outing. This ecological attitude gives an unexpectedly modern tone to "The Pioneers" and makes it sympathetic reading in the 21st Century.

Copyright © Hardback Books Online. Cape Coral, FL