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Precaution   By: (1789-1851)

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Precaution by James Fenimore Cooper is a novel that, despite its relative obscurity in comparison to the author's later works, remains a significant exploration of society and personal growth. Set in the early 19th century, Cooper's first novel paints a vivid picture of the social customs and familial expectations of the time.

The story revolves around the Morland family, primarily focusing on the protagonist, Mr. Edward Morland. As a young man grappling with his social standing and preparing to inherit his family's estate, Morland embarks on a journey of self-discovery and romance. Cooper skillfully explores the dynamics of relationships, as Morland becomes entangled in a web of love and social expectations.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Precaution is the author's keen observation and critique of societal conventions prevalent in that era. Through his characters, Cooper analyzes the artificiality and superficiality of certain societal customs. He delves into themes of class, marriage expectations, and the tension between individual desires and societal pressures. Cooper effectively illustrates how adhering to social norms can have a detrimental impact on personal happiness and fulfillment.

Although the novel can at times feel slow-paced, Cooper's eloquent prose keeps the reader engaged throughout. His attention to detail, particularly in detailed descriptions of the natural landscapes, offers a picturesque backdrop against which the characters' psychological and emotional struggles unfold.

While Precaution may not possess the same level of excitement or adventure found in some of James Fenimore Cooper's later works, it serves as a thought-provoking exploration of societal norms and self-discovery. Cooper's insightful observations and rich character development make this novel a worthy read for those interested in the dynamics of human relationships and the influence of societal expectations. Despite its relatively lesser-known status, Precaution proves to be a valuable addition to Cooper's body of work, showcasing his ability to analyze and critique societal norms with finesse.

First Page:


A Novel.

By J. Fenimore Cooper.

"Be wise to day. It is madness to defer; To morrow's caution may arrive too late."

W. C. Bryant's Discourse on the Life, Genius, and Writings of James Fenimore Cooper,

Delivered at Metropolitan Hall, N.Y., February 25, 1852.

It is now somewhat more than a year, since the friends of JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, in this city; were planning to give a public dinner to his honor. It was intended as an expression both of the regard they bore him personally, and of the pride they took in the glory his writings had reflected on the American name. We thought of what we should say in his hearing; in what terms, worthy of him and of us, we should speak of the esteem in which we held him, and of the interest we felt in a fame which had already penetrated to the remotest nook of the earth inhabited by civilized man.

To day we assemble for a sadder purpose: to pay to the dead some part of the honors then intended for the living. We bring our offering, but he is not here who should receive it; in his stead are vacancy and silence; there is no eye to brighten at our words, and no voice to answer. "It is an empty office that we perform," said Virgil, in his melodious verses, when commemorating the virtues of the young Marcellus, and bidding flowers be strewn, with full hands, over his early grave... Continue reading book >>

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