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The Spy

The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper
By: (1789-1851)

James Fenimore Cooper’s second novel, The Spy (1821), is based on Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly series, and tells an adventure tale about the American Revolution. The protagonist is Harvey Birch, a supposed loyalist who actually is a spy for George Washington, disguised as ‘Mr Harper.’ The book brought Cooper fame and wealth, and is regarded as the first great success in American fiction.
(Summary by Gord MacKenzie)

First Page:

ECLECTIC ENGLISH CLASSICS

THE SPY

A TALE OF THE NEUTRAL GROUND

BY JAMES FENIMORE COOPER

EDITED BY

NATHANIEL WARING BARNES

PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH COMPOSITION IN DE PAUW UNIVERSITY GREENCASTLE, INDIANA

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER

"I believe I could write a better story myself!" With these words, since become famous, James Fenimore Cooper laid aside the English novel which he was reading aloud to his wife. A few days later he submitted several pages of manuscript for her approval, and then settled down to the task of making good his boast. In November, 1820, he gave the public a novel in two volumes, entitled Precaution . But it was published anonymously, and dealt with English society in so much the same way as the average British novel of the time that its author was thought by many to be an Englishman. It had no originality and no real merit of any kind. Yet it was the means of inciting Cooper to another attempt. And this second novel made him famous.

When Precaution appeared, some of Cooper's friends protested against his weak dependence on British models... Continue reading book >>


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