In the early nineteenth century, American author James Fenimore Cooper wrote a series of frontier novels called The Leatherstocking Tales (1823-1841), the most famous of which was The Last of the Mohicans (1826). Forty years after Cooper published his earliest work, a young Leo Tolstoy marched south into the Caucasus after enlisting in the Russian Imperial Army. Tolstoy, best known as the author of War and Peace (1865) and Anna Karenina (1873), began his literary career by writing about his experiences in the Caucasus, the frontier of the Russian Empire. With the knowledge that Tolstoy read Cooper’s work, I used a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) to compare how each author portrayed his respective frontier within his literature. Focusing on their environmental concerns regarding deforestation and their idolization of the rugged frontiersmen archetype, I argue that James Fenimore Cooper influenced Leo Tolstoy’s depiction of the frontier in Tolstoy’s 1863 novel, The Cossacks.
UNH Undergraduate Research Journal
Cathy A. Frierson
Durham, NH: Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research, University of New Hampshire
Gum, Christian, "Heirs to the Frontier: James Fenimore Cooper’s Influence on Tolstoy" (2018). Inquiry Journal. 14.