The Wing-and-Wing, Or Le Feu-Follet

A Tale

By James Fenimore Cooper
Introduction by Lance Schachterle, Anna Scannavini
Notes by Lance Schachterle, Anna Scannavini
Text by Lance Schachterle, and Anna Scannavini

Subjects: Fiction
Series: The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper
Hardcover : 9781438474953, 572 pages, February 2019
Paperback : 9781438474946, 572 pages, January 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Historical Introduction
Preface [1842]
Preface [1851]

The Wing-and-Wing

Explanatory Notes

Italian Glossary

Textual Commentary

Editorial and Proofreading Procedures


Rejected Readings

Textual Notes

A thrilling novel of seafaring adventure, romance, and Napoleonic history, from the author of The Leatherstocking Tales.


In 1842, James Fenimore Cooper returned to transatlantic themes with a thrilling historical novel set in the Mediterranean Sea, weaving together a characteristically exciting narrative of naval pursuit with a story of lovers separated by religious differences. As the novel unfolds, warships under the command of the recently ennobled Lord Nelson are thwarted in their attempt to capture the French privateer Raoul Yvard and his graceful lugger Le Feu-Follet, while Yvard himself is frustrated because the Italian girl he loves, loyal to the Church, refuses to marry a French deist. Cooper also worked into his story one of his most colorful Yankee characters, Ithuel Bolt, an impressed seaman who combines courage and righteousness with bitterness and greedy self-interest.

What sets The Wing-And-Wing apart from Cooper's other maritime adventures is the setting: most of the action occurs in the genial Italian waters of the Bay of Naples and Gulf of Salerno, locations Cooper had visited in 1829–30 and later recalled as "the only region of the earth that I truly love." He combined the struggle for naval dominance just beginning between France and England with historical events occurring in the Kingdom of Naples, especially the role reluctantly played by Nelson, pressured by his lover Lady Hamilton, in the execution of the Neapolitan hero Admiral Caraccioli.

The editors provide a historical introduction identifying Cooper's Italian sources as well as detailed explanatory notes to enable readers fully to appreciate the geographical and historical settings in the novel. This scholarly edition, the twenty-seventh in the Writings of James Fenimore Cooper, presents an accurate text drawing upon both the first edition and a lightly revised authorial text from 1850. The editors provide a full scholarly apparatus discussing their editorial choices, and the edition has been approved by scholarly peers in the Committee for Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association.

Lance Schachterle is Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Arts at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Anna Scannavini is Associate Professor of American Literature at the University of L'Aquila.