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The Representation of the Savage in James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville

Anna Krauthammer

Since the seventeenth century, ethnicity has been the central issue in the American search for a national identity. The articulation of this issue can clearly be seen in the representation of non-white others in the literature of the nineteenth century, specifically in the works of James Fenimore Cooper and Herman Melville. This book examines how both Cooper and Melville manipulated literary images of Native Americans, African Americans, and other non-Europeans, thus revealing how America created the image of the savage – by which it was alternately attracted and repulsed – as a way of defining its own identity.