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A Long Manuscript From The Bravo

Cooper, James Fenimore. Autograph manuscript signed headed “Extract from ‘Bravo,’

Paris, 16 June 1831

One page, comprising about 400 words in Cooper’s hand. Left margin rough, mild soiling at lower margin.

A passage from Cooper’s The Bravo, A Venetian Story. Cooper likely wrote out this extended passage from The Bravo for an unknown admirer. Cooper identifies it at the foot of the page as “Chapter VI. vol. I. copied from proof sheet…” The manuscript varies in several places from the text of the novel’s first publication in 1831.

In this manuscript Cooper describes the Venetian senator Gradenigo, one of the principal characters in this romance set in Renaissance Venice. Gradenigo, he writes, was “born with all the sympathies and natural kindliness of other men, but accident, and an education which received a strong bias from the institutions of the self styled republic, had made him the creature of a conventional polity … In short, he was an aristocrat; and no man had more industriously or more successfully persuaded himself into the belief of all the dogmas of his caste …”

Through his European romances, including The Bravo, Cooper attempted to bring “American opinion … to bear on European facts” (DAB). “The Bravo was especially important because it argued that a moneyed aristocracy could mask its power behind the forms of a republic, a theme with relevance not only to Europe but also to the United States” (ANB).

Provenance: Christie’s, New York, 14 December 2000, lot 45.