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Rural Hours Paperback – July 1, 1998

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Rural Hours, Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), daughter of the famed novelist James Fenimore Cooper, records a year in the life of the fields and woods surrounding her home in Cooperstown, New York. She writes with a keen eye for detail, noting, for example, the disappearance of local species as their habitat is given over to farmland ("all kinds of black-birds are rare here; they are said to have been very numerous indeed at the settlement of the country, but have very much diminished in numbers of late years"), and keeping track of changes in the weather, fluctuations in animal populations, and like matters. Rural Hours is considered to be the first extended piece of nature writing by an American woman, and as such it should be of interest to a wide range of readers, from naturalists to students of regional literature and women's history. --Gregory McNamee

Review

<p>An engagingly, astutely, sensitively, and eloquently written work by the first really significant American woman nature writer.</p> (Lawrence Buell Harvard University)

<p><i>Rural Hours</i> should interest students of American geography, history, and literature as an important early work of nature writing. It is a significant literary achievement by a woman who has too long languished in the shadow of her famous father.</p> (Louise Westling)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; Revised edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820320005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820320007
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For over a century, admirer's of Susan Fenimore Cooper's "Rural Hours" (1850) have been dependent on a heavily abridged version dating from 1887 -- the only one to be reprinted in modern times. Though "Rural Hours" is generally accepted both as good reading and as a major contribution to American nature writing, it has not previously been available as the author originally wrote it -- and as others, including Thoreau, read it. Susan Fenimore Cooper, long overshadowed by her novelist father, is today becoming recognized as an important writer of the 19th century; this new text will make her most important and influential work fully available again both to scholars and to a new generation of readers.
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book, from the painting of Cooperstown on the cover to glossary where historical references, or the names of birds or other words that have changed over time are explained. Cooper's prose is insightful and charming, and, given the book's historial prespective, makes me think about present and future environmental concerns for our country. Rural Hours makes the chain of small mill towns we have here in the Blackstone Valley region of Massachusetts come alive--Cooper saw the quiet commerce of the canals give way to the noise and pollution of the railroad industry and realized that the land and species of bird and animal life surrounding her were threatened. However Cooper's response to these feelings of peril was not to preach, but rather to praise the countryside and the life forms she witnessed. As a woman reader, I must also say that it right and just that the parts of Rural Hours that were omitted from all editions since 1870 should be brought back to us to now think about, appreciate, and learn from. Since reading, this book has stayed with me--the many beautiful images of nature that Cooper portrays, but also her quiet voice of urgency that encourages me to continue positive action in my own community, to not only save what land is left, but also to restore urban and other environments that have been abused. I highly recommend Rural Hours--it's a great read, a book to cherish.
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Unfortunately, I bought this version of Rural Hours in haste, and have repented at leisure. Susan Fenimore Cooper's writing is delightful and fascinating to read; the work itself is well worth your time. However, the print-on-demand technology is far from perfect; my pages are full of typos (including the title--it reads "Bubal Houbs"). Deciphering what Cooper might actually have written is sometimes very difficult due to all of these errors. Mostly, though, it's highly annoying when a perfectly fabulous edited edition is available.
So, to all who wish to read Rural Hours (as you well should), be SURE you purchase the excellent edited edition put out by Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson. For some reason it doesn't come up automatically when you search in Amazon, and you have to know exactly that you're looking for. It's worth the search, though--and Susan Fenimore Cooper's work is well worth the read.
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Format: Paperback
Great book. Much detail here of the daily lives of our nineteenth century forbearers, written from a first hand perspective. Essential reading for the descendants of Otsego County.
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