un Walter Scott americano – Fennimore Cooper

Hudson River School
Thomas Worthington Whittredge: River Scene 
James Fenimore Cooper (1789 – 1851) was born in New Jersey, but soon his family moved to (= si trasferì) the frontier town of Cooperstown on OstegoLake in central New York,  where he met settlers (= coloni) and Indians. After being expulsed from school he  became a sailor (= marinaio) (1806). At twenty Cooper  inherited (= ereditò) a fortune from his father, married Susan Augusta De Lancey (1811), the daughter of a wealthy (= benestante) family and for two years he led the life (= condusse la vita) of a country gentleman. In 1820, Cooper’s wife bet (= fece una scommessa) he could write a book better than the one he was reading. This marked (= segnò) the beginning of Fennimore’s career as a writer.   He wrote  Precaution (1820) under the influence of Jane Austen, followed by the historical story The Spy: A Tale of Neutral Ground (1821) about the American Revolution. He was successful and decided to move to New York City where he carried on writing. Here Cooper founded (= fondò) the Bread and Cheese Club, which soon became  a cultural centre attended by the painters of the Hudson River School and by writers like William Cullen Bryant.
In 1823, Cooper wrote The Pioneers, the  novel with  Natty Bumppo as a  protagonist. It was the first of  The Leatherstocking Tales (= i racconti di calze di cuoio). The main theme of these stories are  the American contrapositions between natural and legal rights, order and change (= cambiamento), wilderness (= posto selvaggio) and civilization.
In 1826, he sailed (= salpò) for Europe where he stayed for seven years. Here Cooper wrote  The Prairie (1827) and Notions of the Americans (1828), a defence of the United States against the attacks of European travellers. He was considered the American Walter Scott, the author that was his source (= fonte) and inspirer (= ispiratore). The Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic Georg Lukacs compared Natty Bumppo with the characters created by Sir Walter Scott: both  act as tools (= strumenti) for social and cultural examination of historical events.
Back in the States in 1833, Cooper was attacked by newspapers as a false aristocrat  contamined by European influences and the author answered  attacking press and reviewers also on legal terms(= per vie legali). Meanwhile (=nel frattempo)  he published  three more Leatherstocking Tales: The Last of the Mohicans (1826), The Pathfinder (1840), and The Deerslayer (1841) and some books about the Navy: The History of the Navy of the United States of America (1839), The Cruise of Sommers (1844), and The Distinguished American Naval Officers (1846).
When he died,  Cooper’s work was more popular in Europe – where he influenced author like  Honore de Balzac and Leo Tolstoy – than in America . He is seen now as reactionary and too romantic but his writings contributed to create  the genre of American fiction.