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The Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume VIII, Number 2, Fall 1977 Picturesque and Pastoral: Two Views of Cooper's Landscapes Blake Nevius. Cooper's Landscapes: An Essay on the Picturesque Vision. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976. 127 + xii pp. H. Daniel Peck. A World byItself: The Pastoral Movement in Cooper's Fiction. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1977. 213 + xivpp. Ernest H. Redekop In her introduction to The Deers/ayer, Susan Fenimore Cooper givesus1 some insights into her father's perception of, and attitudes toward, lands-, cape. A mile and a half from Cooperstown, along the eastern shore of·· Lake Otsego, Cooper had a farm, "a poet's farm" as his daughter calls it, "more romantic than profitable:' It covered the side of a hill, at the top of ·vvhichhe found a cabin from which one could see almost the entire lake, including "the heights of Springfield to the northward, and southward· the village, picturesque in position, with the valley of the winding Susquehanna beyond."1 Cooper's actions here imitate in small the experience of his father in the last decade of the eighteenth century and of his father's1 artistic reincarnation, Marmaduke Temple of The Pioneers; they also reveal some of the imaginative origins for the transformations of wilderness by' Captain Willoughby in Wyandotte, by the three generations of Littlepages, and by Mark Woolston in The Crater. Several decades of frontier experience are compressed into the few years Cooper spent on his "improvements." His daughter describes the process: When he first took possession of the ground it was rude and wild as possible. He began by removing the chalet, American fashion, from the knoll, and bringing it down the mountain-side to a picturesque spot, near a noble spring under the shadow of a chff.1 retired in position but accessible from the highway, and quite near the lake. A good road was made to the hill-top .... A comfortable farm-house, dairy, barns, and other outhouse, were built. Fields were cleared and several terraces of good soil brought under cultivat10n For him this farm had a double charm. He had the true American passion for cleanng1 and improving land; such was the practical attraction. And to his poet's eye for natural beauty the views over the lake were an unceasing source of delight. (Susan Cooper, p. xxx11 ' 185 Cooper'smain impetus in designing his farm was aesthetic. But in trans-·' forming the land from the Savage to the Pastoral State, to use Thomas Cole'sterms, he was almost equally interested in its usefulness. So his daughter'sdescription reminds us of two major elements in his novels of 1 the Americanwilderness and settlement: land and landscape. In the Leatherstocking Tales,in The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish, in Home as Found, Wyandotte, theLittlepage Trilogy, and The Crater, to mention the most obvious examples, he examines man's relation to each of these two elements. Althoughthere is a close relation between land and landscape, it is also necessary to make a nice and yet fundamental distinction, as Emerson points out in his essay Nature: "The charming landscape which I saw this morningis indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms. Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none ofthem owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which noman has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. Thisis the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title."2 Emerson is writing about the need to see the world imaginatively ;for him land and landscape, often so closely related that the two words seem to be a kind of hendiadys, diverge radically. Land, as Emerson· seesit, has to do with ownership, and as he points out in "Hamatreya," itspossessioncan give rise to hubris in man's relation to nature. Landscape, onthe other hand, is more than land. The very concept implies a shaping , projection of the observer's imagination, an ability to unite disparate elements,to see, as Emerson puts it, "the integrity of impression made by manifoldnatural objects" (Works...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 184-205
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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