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The Deerslayer (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853265527
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853265525
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.7 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

James Fenimore Cooper (September 15, 1789 – September 14, 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. He is best remembered as a novelist who wrote numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales, featuring frontiersman Natty Bumppo. Among his most famous works is the Romantic novel The Last of the Mohicans, often regarded as his masterpiece. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Deerslayer" is the sequentially first in the Leatherstocking series of America's first, great, professional novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. I read it in preparation for a trip to Cooperstown, New York and I am glad that I did. Set in upstate New York in the 1740s, it provides the reader with an idolized introduction to the society of white and red of this colonial frontier.

The criticisms that the dialogue and actions are totally unbelievable, while justified, do not detract from the story. While the simple, faith-filled actions of the "Feeble Minded Hetty" and the dialogue between Deerslayer and Chingachgook seem highly improbable, the do hold the readers' interest. While I am generally not one to pick up readily on character development, this novel is an exception. The contrast between Deerslayer and Chingachgook, the romance between Chingachgook and Wah-ta-Wah

, the romantic web among Judith, Hurry Harry and Deerslayer, and the varying responses to changes in circumstance coming from sisters Judith and Hetty all contribute to the persistent popularity of this work.

Despite all the criticisms directed against Cooper as to form, the one thing that cannot be denied is that this book is very difficult to put down. I found myself always wondering what would come next and what would happen to the characters whom I had come to know. Whether you are looking for an insight into early American literature or just a good story, your search should lead to "The Deerslayer". "
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frank Bierbrauer on 18 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first in the series of five Leatherstocking Tales from James Fenimore Cooper, meaning the one where the character of Natty Bumpo is introduced as a young man. I once received the whole set of the tales as a child but never managed to read them to completion and am now doing just that. This is why I chose to read The Deerslayer first of all in order to get the chronology right.

The young Deerslayer, as his Delaware friends call him, has not yet gone on his first warpath and is in the process of doing so with his friend Chingachkook. Both have not yet faught an enemy and the novel is a good deal about this introduction to what it means to be living with the Native Americans of this time. It is also a good deal about the differences between the "white man" and the "red man". Natty is constantly pressing home the point that these two peoples are very different in the way they live their lives and he stresses how he is white and that he possesses his own "gifts" as does his indian friend.

It's fascinating simply because of the outmoded language used throughout, written in the way that a story needed to be in the 1800's. Considering that Cooper had written his first tale in 1823 there were not so many intervening years between the the 1750's and the early 1800's. In other words, history lingered and was not so distant. In this sense Cooper must have captured a good deal of the way of life of the time that he writes about.

The book has some weaknesses, for example: the actions taking place are often discussed in a long-winded manner when in fact quick thinking and little talking would have been the way these things were done since danger was close at hand and no time for such discussion would have been available when the slightest sound could have meant death.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
Cooper's novel about the entrance into manhood of his hero Natty Bumppo (aka 'Leatherstocking' or 'Hawkeye') is no easy reading: the language is fairly obsolete, many of the morals and values Natty believes in and stands for are out-dated, and the action is at times incredible. But then again, there's no denying that this is also a well-written adventure story (one of the first), and has become part of the American heritage.

If you're looking for an entertaining book to read on some beach or other I'd suggest you look elsewhere, but if you have time on your hands and are interested in the origins of adventure literature this is a must read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Chester on 16 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Chronologically the first of the Leatherstocking Tales about trapper Nathaniel Bumpo, this sets the feel for the rest of the series even though it wasn't the first one written. The Deerslayer of the title is Nathaniel who earns his name of "Hawkeye", for which he is more famous, in this book from the first enemy he ever kills. If the saga is read chronologically, "The Deerslayer" is a good introduction to the character of Natty Bumpo (although I read "The Last Of the Mohicans" first).
It is a story based around the themes of honesty, morality, understanding your own individuality and staying true to your values, told at the steady pace that James Fenimore Cooper uses in his other books. There are several plot parallels that can be drawn with some of his other works, especially "The Last Of The Mohicans", but to describe them would give too much of the plot away.
Although the book has its tense and exciting moments, the dreamy and picturesque style of the narrative can make it drag, and quite frankly I thought the story could have been told using maybe three-quarters of the paper. But that said the narrative does allow a lot of insight into the characters' mind-frames, which allows a greater empathy with them.
A good story but not really a page-turner.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 32 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Natty: The early years.......... 27 May 2003
By nto62 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cooper's final Leatherstocking Tale, The Deerslayer, depicts young Natty Bumppo on his first warpath with lifelong friend-to-be, Chingachgook. The story centers around a lake used as the chronologically subsequent setting for Cooper's first Leatherstocking Tale, The Pioneers. Tom Hutter lives on the lake with his daughters and it is here that Deerslayer (Bumppo) intends to meet Chingachgook to rescue Chingachgook's betrothed from a band of roving Iroquois. A desperate battle for control of the lake and it's immediate environs ensues and consumes the remainder of the story.
Throughout this ultimate Leatherstocking Tale, Cooper provides Natty much to postulate upon. Seemingly desiring a comprehensive finality to the philosophy of Bumppo, Cooper has Natty "speechify" in The Deerslayer more so than in any other book, though the character could hardly be considered laconic in any. Though the reason for this is obvious and expected (it is, after all, Cooper's last book of the series), it still detracts a tad from the pace of the story as Natty picks some highly inappropriate moments within the plot to elaborate his position. And, thus, somewhat incongruently, Cooper is forced to award accumulated wisdom to Bummpo at the beginning of his career rather than have him achieve it through chronological accrual.
All things considered, however, The Deerslayer is not remarkably less fun than any other Leatherstalking Tale and deserves a similar rating. Thus, I award The Deerslayer 4+ stars and the entire Leatherstocking Tales series, one of the better examples of historical fiction of the romantic style, the ultimate rating of 5. It was well worth my time.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Not Cooper's Best Effort.... 4 Oct. 2001
By Jonathan B. Sims - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Had "Deerslayer" been James Fenimore Cooper's first "Leatherstocking" tale -- who knows? Maybe it would have been his last! But his mythic hero, Nathaniel Bumppo (a.k.a. Natty, Deerslayer, The Long Carrabine, Hawkeye, et. al.)had such a mid-19th Century following that Cooper was practically guaranteed an eager, receptive audience for his tales.
I won't say straight out that "Deerslayer" is a terrible book. If nothing else, Donald Pease's introductory essay informs us of several plot complexities that are intertwined with Cooper's personal life, such as the re-invention of Natty Bumppo to buttress and justiry Cooper's real-life legal property claims. But, if "Deerslayer" is not a terrible book, it is for hundreds of pages something less than scintillating. Why? I think it comes down to this. Patient readers can endure quite a lot of moralizing, or wide swaths of verbosity. But put the two together and it's hard to endure.
The story takes place on Cooper's real-life ancestral home, Lake Otsego in mid-upstate New York (my friends tell me the pronunciation is "Otsaga" with a short "a") where we first encounter a youthful Natty Bumppo and his unlikely fellow traveler, Harry "Hurry" March, an indestructible, Paul Bunyonesque figure whose credo can be summarized as "might makes right." Natty (given the sobriquet, Deerslayer, by his adopted Delaware tribe) has arrived at the lake to join his companion, Chingachgook, (the "Serpant"), in his quest to liberate his future bride, Wah-ta-Wah, who was kidnapped by a band of Huron Indians. Harry March has come to the lake to capture the heart of Judith Hutter, who along with her father, Thomas, and simple-minded sister, Hetty, live on the lake, occupying either a floating ark or a fortress-like structure built upon the lake.
Eventually, the Hutters are surrounded by dozens of fierce Huron warriors, who are on the warpath during the opening days of the mid-18th Century French & Indian Wars. Seemingly, it was all there for Cooper to capitalize on: just a handful of isolated white settlers, whose only protection from scalp-seeking, torture-minded skulking Hurons is a crank sailing craft or a lake home on stilts. But Cooper rejects his own dramatic setting to stage a morality play, and a heavy-handed one at that.
A word about the Hutter sisters. Diametrically opposed siblings are at least as old as the Bible, and Cooper employed them in several novels, including "The Last of the Mohicans" and "The Spy" (far superior works than "Deerslayer".) Hetty is Cooper's example of purity and innocence, but we can leave her to the Hurons, who display an admirable level of respect and reverence for the frail-minded girl. I suspect she would have fared much better in the hands of so-called savages than in the typical 18th Century colonial settlement. It is her vain, beautiful and high-tempered older sister, Judith, whose character is of more interest, and requires in my opinion a little rehabilitation.
It is never made explicit by Cooper (no doubt it would have scandalized his audience) but I think it's fair to say that Judith Hutter -- much to her regret later on -- granted her last favors to at least one colonial British officer (maybe several.) And, if this is a mis-reading of the text, she most certainly did "something" to set the colonial tongues a wagging. Whatever her "failings", they would not be recognized as such by modern day readers (perhaps her vanity and self-centeredness would go unnoticed as well.) There was, however, little tolerance for a Judith Hutter in the 18th Century, and Cooper would have never permitted Natty Bumppo -- young, virginal and selfless -- to fall in love with this high-spirited young woman. (Besides, it would not have chronologically tied in with his future exploits.)
But I'm not entirely convinced. Judith Hutter possesses several admirable traits, not the least of which is intelligence, bravery and a certain loving devotion to her frail sister. She also recognizes Natty Bumppo's virtues, as well as her own faults, and is more than willing to embrace the former and cast off the latter. Her love for Natty is obvious for hundreds of pages, but somehow he doesn't quite get it! In the end, the girl must swallow her pride and make explicit what even modern day women would find nearly unthinkable -- she makes an outright marriage proposal. Alas, Natty Bumppo is simply "too good" for her.
To use a modern day expression, Cooper is over the top with the virtuous Natty Bumppo. At some point, self-abnegation is just another form of narcissism -- only more complex than the garden variety of narcissism possessed by Judith Hutter (and other mere mortals.) In his introductory essay, Donald Pease points out that the rejection of Judith Hutter balances the brutal rejection Natty Bumppo receives at the hands of Mabel Dunham in an earlier Leatherstocking tale, "The Pathfinder". Maybe. But consider this. To honor his parole from the Hurons, Natty Bumppo chooses torture over Judith Hutter. And, ultimately, he chooses a famous rifle over her -- a gift she lovingly gives to him in recognition of how much he would appreciate such a weapon. It comes down to this: torture and guns over Judith Hutter! Hmmm.... I'll leave that one for modern day psychologists.
I've given "Deerslayer" three stars because Cooper is, after all, one of our nation's early literary masters, and "Deerslayer" is not without its moments. There's a wonderful give-and-take scene between Natty Bumppo and the Huron Chief, Rivenoak, as they negotiate the release of Thomas Hutter and Harry March. (My advice to modern day corporations: don't bother with negotiation consultants -- save your money and read Chapter 14.) And for those who still believe in the right of every American to bear arms, take it from the author who created our nation's first true literary sharpshooter. There's a haunting, prescient admonishment about leaving loaded guns lying about the house (pages 219-220.)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Holds Your Interest! 11 Jun. 2006
By James Gallen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Deerslayer" is the sequentially first in the Leatherstocking series of America's first, great, professional novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. I read it in preparation for a trip to Cooperstown, New York and I am glad that I did. Set in upstate New York in the 1740s, it provides the reader with an idolized introduction to the society of white and red of this colonial frontier.

The criticisms that the dialogue and actions are totally unbelievable, while justified, do not detract from the story. While the simple, faith-filled actions of the "Feeble Minded Hetty" and the dialogue between Deerslayer and Chingachgook seem highly improbable, the do hold the readers' interest. While I am generally not one to pick up readily on character development, this novel is an exception. The contrast between Deerslayer and Chingachgook, the romance between Chingachgook and Wah-ta-Wah, the romantic web among Judith, Hurry Harry and Deerslayer, and the varying responses to changes in circumstance coming from sisters Judith and Hetty all contribute to the persistent popularity of this work.

Despite all the criticisms directed against Cooper as to form, the one thing that cannot be denied is that this book is very difficult to put down. I found myself always wondering what would come next and what would happen to the characters whom I had come to know. Whether you are looking for an insight into early American literature or just a good story, your search should lead to "The Deerslayer".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Coming of Age in the Garden of Eden 7 Aug. 2007
By Kenneth Mark Hoover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Fenimore Cooper wrote his Leatherstocking tales out of chronological order. The Deerslayer or The First Warpath was the last of the Natty Bumppo novels and because Cooper had matured both in age and artistic ability it is perhaps the best.

From the beginning we know this is a darker novel than the preceding tales. In the first few pages Deerslayer's companion, Hurry Harry, asks the young man, "...Did you ever hit any thing human, or intelligible: did you ever pull trigger on an inimy that was capable of pulling one upon you?"

Bumppo's answer is, of course, no. He is at the beginning of his career. He is known as Deerslayer by the Delawares because that's what he does. He has yet to take a human life. As soon as we read this we know this novel, above all else, is a coming-of-age story and someone's life is ticking away....

In the interim Deerslayer meets Tom Hutter and his two daughters, the dark-haired Judith and the feeble-minded Hetty. The family lives on a castle-on-piers in the middle of Lake Glimmerglass, a secluded spot akin to the Garden of Eden -- the perfect setting for a coming-of-age story. Except things are not what they seem. This area is actually more of a haunt of savagery, with not a little of it supplied by both Hurry Harry and Tom Hutter against the local Native American tribe, the Hurons.

Judith Hutter, however, is the engine that drives this story. She's a woman with questionable morals, and though she's somewhat older than Deerslayer she falls in love with his open honesty and his natural way of looking at the world. In a telling exchange she asks him if he has a sweetheart. He answers:

"She's in the forest, Judith--hanging from the boughs of the trees, in a soft rain--in the dew on the open grass--the clouds that float about in the blue heavens--the birds that sing in the woods--the sweet springs where I slake my thirst...."

Judith perseveres. Has he never heard the laugh of a girl he loves? Deerslayer remains true to form:

"...To me there's no music so sweet as the sighing of the wind in the treetops, and the rippling of a stream from a full, sparkling, natyve fountain of fresh water, unless...it be the open mouth of a sartain hound, when I'm on the track of a fat buck."

In the pages that follow Deerslayer kills a man, a Native American attempting to take his life by deceit. He earns the reputation as "Hawkeye" for his deft shooting and helps Chingachgook secure the safety of his future wife, Hist. (She will be mother to the Last of the Mohicans, Uncas.) Further violence and treachery abound as Deerslayer is captured by the Hurons and tortured. Tom Hutter dies in an extremely gruesome manner and there's the mystery of Judith's past --even down to her parentage-- to be solved. But her love for Deerslayer is true and in the end she gives him her father's gun, a weapon of exquisite manufacture and excellent bore, which he will make famous--the long rifle, Killdeer.

In the end Deerslayer leaves Judith after yet more tragedy ensues. The novel ends fifteen years later with Hawkeye returning with Chingachgook and a stripling Uncas to Lake Glimmerglass. Everything has changed. The castle is abandoned and in disrepair, and the graves can no longer be found. Hawkeye tries to find out what happened to Judith, and we are awarded a glimpse of her fate, but no more.

As I said earlier this is a fairly dark book in the Leatherstocking Tales, but well-written. It's a good story and the characters really do come to life. There are the usual elements of humor and long-winded conversations but they don't detract too much from the overall enjoyment of this tale. Cooper also doesn't hold back in showing that violence, both necessary and ignoble, can come from anyone for any reason...at anytime.

This is one great book and I highly recommend it.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Cooper Knew America 20 July 2006
By Eileen Cunningham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Race relations, environmental concerns, independent womanhood, the importance of personal character, survivalism, heroism, religion, cultural relativism, nature v. nurture, independence v. inter-dependency--sound like the latest hot topics in American TV, movies, and magazines? Actually, these constitute the bevy of themes that James Fenimore Cooper explored as foundational to the American experience when he wrote *Deerslayer* in 1841, setting it even farther back at the time of the French and Indian War, 1754-63. Some readers, not surprisingly, are put off by the ornate writing style of the early nineteenth century, but it doesn't hurt us post-moderns to turn off the TV and take a slower pace, interacting slowly with the writer and his thoughts. In Natty Bumppo, we find the first--and definitive--delineation of the American hero: selfless, dependable, restrained, tolerant, cagey, and moral. A generation raised on anti-heroes sometimes has a bit of a problem with the morality of Bumppo, but since 9/11, we have seen a revival of the American ideal that Cooper first defined in his Leatherstocking Tales. Don't give up on this one because of the language. Sit a bit and mull it over. You'll find Cooper will deliver remarkably well.
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