FIRST EDITION OF PRECAUTION, 1820, JAMES FENIMORE COOPER'S ANONYMOUSLY PUBLISHED FIRST NOVEL, A COOPER RARITY
COOPER, James Fenimore. Precaution, a Novel. New York: A.T. Goodrich, 1820. Two volumes. Small octavo, 20th-century full brown morocco gilt, marbled endpapers. $5500.
First edition of Cooper's first novel, published anonymously, handsomely bound by Bennett.
"Playfully challenged by his wife's cousin to write a better book than one he was reading aloud, Cooper, after a false start, produced Precaution (1820), an imitation of an English novel of manners, which… brought him to the attention of the New York literary world" (ANB). Until the publication of Precaution, Cooper had been a gentleman farmer with large debts. His literary career was so immediately successful that his financial problems were solved by 1826, the year in which The Last of the Mohicans appeared. His writing career continued until 1850, one year before his death. "His worldwide fame attests his power of invention, for his novels have been popular principally for their variety of dramatic incidents, vivid depiction of romantic scenes and situations, and adventurous plots. But a more sophisticated view caused a revival of interest in the mid-20th century concentrating on Cooper's novels in their creation of tension between different kinds of society, between society and the individual, between the settlement and the wilderness, and between civil law and natural rights" (Hart, 165-66). Bound without errata leaf. Spiller & Blackburn 1. BAL 3825. Bookplates. Contemporary owner signature on first page of text in Volume I partly trimmed away.
Scattered foxing and dampstaining, more so in Volume I. A rare Cooper title.