The Bravo

A Venetian Story

By James Fenimore Cooper
Edited by Lance Schachterle & James A. Sappenfield
Introduction by Kay Seymour House

Subjects: Fiction, American Literature, New York/regional
Series: The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper
Hardcover : 9781438494968, 548 pages, July 2023
Paperback : 9781438494975, 548 pages, January 2024

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Table of contents

Historical Introduction
Preface [1831]
Preface [1834]

The Bravo

Explanatory Notes
Textual Commentary
The Manuscript and Its Transcription
A Note on the Amanuensis Copy
Rejected Readings
Textual Notes

A novel of early eighteenth-century Venice that Cooper called "in spirit, the most American book I ever wrote."


The Bravo (1831) takes place in early eighteenth-century Venice, when the "Serene Republic" had lost much of its glory, leaving its oligarchs struggling to hold on to their family wealth by manipulating the government and people through secret councils and a figure-head doge. In 1844, Cooper called it "in spirit, the most American book I ever wrote" because of its depiction of the masses duped by demagoguery and the attempts of Congress to rein in President Jackson, who Cooper saw as representing the popular will. In the novel, the low-born hero, Jacopo Frontoni, is forced to become an agent of the state because his unjustly imprisoned father languishes in the infamous state prison. On the last page, Jacopo is executed as a scapegoat for the crimes attributed to him of which he is innocent, rendering his beloved insane. Only in a subplot does a noble couple escape Venice to enjoy marriage.

The present text is based on all extant manuscript witnesses (including a lengthy deleted section) and offers extensive explanatory notes.

Lance Schachterle is Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. James A. Sappenfield was Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kay Seymour House was Professor of English at San Francisco State University and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper from 1990 to 2002. Anna Scannavini is Associate Professor Emerita of American Literature at the University of L'Aquila.