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Afloat and Ashore

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Title: Afloat and Ashore  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: James Fenimore Cooper, Nautical fiction, 1844 novels, Afloat, Wyandotté (novel)
Collection: 1844 Novels, Nautical Fiction, Novels by James Fenimore Cooper
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Afloat and Ashore

Afloat and Ashore is a nautical fiction novel by James Fenimore Cooper first published in 1844. Set in 1796-1804, the novel follows the maritime adventures of Miles Wallingford Jr. , the son of wealthy New York landowners who chooses to go to see after the death of his parents.[1] The novel ends abruptly part way through , and is followed by what critic Harold D. Langely called a "necessary" sequel Miles Wallingford, which resolves many thematic and plot elements.[1] The novel is partially autobiographical, in part by Cooper's own experiences as a sailor, and is his first full-length novel to fully employ a first-person narrative.[2]


  • Themes 1
  • Genre and setting 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5


Thematically, the novel focuses on the challenging relationship between Miles and Neb, a runaway slave who stows away aboard the ship and only is left unpunished when Miles claims him as his own slave.[1] The two become close allies aboard the ship, but the racial and power differences between Miles, who becomes a petty officer aboard the vessel, and Neb, who is confined to the role of regular seaman.[1]

Genre and setting

In her critical introduction to the novel published at the end of the 19th century, Susan Fenimoore Cooper described the novel as autobiographical fiction, drawing on Coopers experiences gorwing up in New York, and his experiences with the see.[3] Critic Thomas Philbrock attributes Cooper's turn to autobiographical experience as inspiration, to a five month visit by an old shipmate, Ned Myers, which led Cooper to create the biography Ned Myers; or, A Life before the Mast (1843)[2] However, despite Philbrick claiming that the novel is the most autobiographical of Cooper's novels, he notes that "those autobiographical materials in fact make up only a small proportion of the total fabric".[2]

Susan Fenimoore Cooper points out Cooper's "truthfully sketched, and tinged with the peculiar coloring of the period" depiction of nautical life, drawn from extensive research with sailors living during the period in which its set.[3] Similary, she notes the contrast between Cooper's earlier nautical fiction like The Pilot, which focuses on the experience of one ship and crew, noting the diversity of vessels and maritime communties depicted.[3] Critic Thomas Philbrick, also notes the importance of historical realism in the novel. He describes the novel being much more realistic largely because of Coopers work on his History of the Navy, as compared to the earlier nautical fiction, like The Pilot (1824), The Red Rover (1827), and The Water-Witch (1830), which treat history and ocean with much more romantic and metaphorical, akin to other Romantic treatments of the sea.[2] Similarly, Philbrick describes Afloat and Ashore as a return to Cooper's interest in the American context, whereas many of his novels in the 10 years before were drawn from European history or the European nautical tradition.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ a b c d e
  3. ^ a b c

Further reading

External links

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