The Last of the Mohicans (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 27 Sep 2007
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About the Author
James Fenimore Cooper (1789 – 1851) was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. His historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, which was established by his father William. Cooper was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and in his later years contributed generously to it. He attended Yale University for three years, where he was a member of the Linonian Society, but was expelled for misbehavior. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
The hero of these tales, the improbably named Nathaniel Bumppo (or Natty, or Deerslayer, or Hawkeye, or The Long Rifle, or...etc, etc) was the first, and remains the quintessential, all-American fictional hero; brave, noble, honest and more at home in the wilderness than the town. He is not however, the strong, silent type. He has a habit of launching into long, rambling streams of homespun philosophy at the drop of a coonskin cap. Never mind that lead shot is flying thick and fast around his ears, he will lean on his rifle and expound on the different natures of Indians and whites, or the evils of literacy.
The plot of Mohicans is action-packed, but is linear - no surprise twists, and no sub-plots - and contains some highly improbable elements. Well, would you be fooled by an enemy disguised as a beaver? Michael Mann's excellent 1992 screen version reworked the plot extensively, to its advantage.
Cooper was the first distinctively American novelist and was inspired by Walter Scott, the inventor of the historical novel. He was consciously attempting to emulate Scott but, although he writes quite well, he lacks Scott's lyricism. And his characters, specially the women, are resiliently two-dimensional. But he did capture the spirit of the frontier, the pride and pain of a new and growing country, and in doing so created myths out of America's past that have survived, evolved, and have sustained the nation, ever since.
As mentioned, I was 16, and managed to understand the book through till end, and found that gradually the old slang, or language, easier to read.
If you enjoy reading, and are willing to put in the time to read slowly and understand the words in this great novel, then it really is worth the read. It's a story of great morals, love and loss and I really would reccomend it.
Few books manage to bring tears to my eyes, but this book did and has definately brought alot of insight into the fabulous world of native indian culture.
Saying that, the plot is superb, and so different from the film it almost seems to defy belief. For example, there is no love story with hawk-eye and Cora, nor does Duncan Heyward desire the latter. Major Heyward is interested in Alice and Uncas has a fleeting interest in Cora. There is an additional character, in David Gamut, who confuses the Hurons with his bizarre songs so much that they thing he has mental problems. In this book Montcalm actively encourages the massacre of William Henry, and there is a rather brutal act from one of the Hurons.
Colonel Munro escapes the gory fate of the film because there is no blood vengeance at the heart of this story. And it all culminates in a battle of the Delawares (led by Le Cerf Agile) against Magua (Le Renard Subtil) and the Hurons.
It could not be any more different from the dramatisation if it tried, and so is readily recommended to those who have seen the film and think there is little extra to be gleaned from the book. There is a sub story of the abuse of the natural world and the treatment of the indeginous peoples of the Americas, and in some of the admonishments of Hawk-eye you can see the passion of the author.
The plot, particularly in the final section of the novel, descends into the frankly ridiculous.
His portrayal of the Native Americans is quite bizarre, one minute they can tell apart apparently any moccasin-wearer from any other from a faint footprint, the next they are completely taken in by a man dressed as a bear, and another dressed as a beaver (small bear or grotesquely enormous beaver?). oh and they stop in the middle of a battle to drink from the "torrent" of blood gushing from the wounded. A torrent, a literal flood of blood gushing over the ground...
But it's the prose which is the worst, his immense fondness for the word "countenance" apart, the dialogue is so mannered and stiff it feels like reading a script for one of those daytime soap-operas they seem to adore in America.
I wouldn't recommend really...
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