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by James Fenimore Cooper

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Book Description
This introduction to her father's novel was written by his daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper:

In the year 1845 appeared Satanstoe, a very pleasant book, giving us pictures of society in the colony of New York, some hundred years earlier. The narrative takes the form of an autobiography, purporting to have been written by a member of the Littlepage family, living on one of the "Necks" of West Chester, on the shores of the Sound, but the proprietor of extensive lands in the interior of the province. The reader follows the steps of Cornelius Littlepage in his visits to New York, his quiet but amusing accounts of the state of things in the great capital of the province at that time, in his glimpses of Albany and our Dutch ancestors, and goes with him into the wilderness, to Mooseridge, the tract of ground to be peopled and worked by the proprietor.

In reading the book, at the first glance we should deem it simply a pleasant look backward at town and country, among our forefathers, while the quiet interest thrown about the different characters leads us onward, without effort, through some striking scenes. The latent object of the writer scarcely appears in this, the first work of a connected series of three, relating to the same family and the same tract of lands. We are made to see clearly, however, that the task of redeeming Mooseridge from the wilderness, and taking the first steps toward cultivation, was one requiring money, forethought, and effort.

In the second work of the series we shall find the plot thickening, the cloud of disturbance drawing nearer. The name of "Satanstoe" was given to this book in a fit of intense disgust at the unmeaning absurdity of the newly-coined word of "Hurl-Gate," which he often stigmatized as a piece of "canting corruption." He maintained that the name of Hell-Gate should either be left in its original form or entirely abandoned for something new; and Hurl-Gate has conceived a flagrant absurdity, quite unworthy of people of common sense.

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Every chronicle of manners has a certain value. When customs are connected with principles, in their origin, development, or end, such records have a double importance; and it is because we think we see such a connection between the facts and incidents of the Littlepage Manuscripts, and certain important theories of our own time, that we give the former to the world.

About the Author
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was an American novelist, travel writer, and social critic, regarded as the first great American writer of fiction. He was famed for his action-packed plots and his vivid, if somewhat idealized, portrayal of American life in the forest and at sea.



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