In the first four volumes of his Leatherstocking Tales (1823-1840), James Fenimore Cooper employs an arcane motif in which scenes of communication between Anglo-Americans and native Americans are set in sublime locations and, typically, interrupted by animals. Cooper has borrowed this motif of ““sublime translation”” from Walter Scott; the paradigm is the ““Highland Minstrelsy”” chapter of Waverley (1814). ““Sublime translation”” is crucial to the thematics of both sets of romances. In the works of Scott, Cooper finds a use of the sublime that is particularly suitable to his aesthetic agenda of differentiating his usage of English from that of the mother country. The motif figuratively naturalizes American English and links it to the indigenous languages, and it also transfers the quality of sublimity from the dying native tongues to the new American one. Thus the ultimate elevation of Reason over Nature that characterizes the Kantian sublime (Scott was strongly influenced by German Romanticism) takes on a new meaning in colonial and postcolonial contexts.
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