Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last of the Mohicans. James Fennimore Cooper

Last of the Mohicans. James Fennimore Cooper

Written in 1826, it was hard for me to tell if this book was pure fiction or included an accurate estimate of life in the 18th century. It is something of a historical novel and included facts about dates, places, battles and real people. It was set in 1757 during the French and Indian war. The story was an account of the harsh life and easy death of the times. I wondered about the accuracy of the battle, name and places accuracy given the liberties taken the descriptions of the characters and their lives. When reading, I would not count on historical accuracy. The invisible, stealthy Indian was the most interesting theme. It seems the British army, in all its glory, was constantly outwitted but was never the less able to defeat the French at least after a long protracted war. The Indians were treated mostly favorably although their “heathen” beliefs not so much. The prose was highly stylized and at times, I labored under the flowering graphic and idealized language of Mr. Cooper. In spite of obvious exaggerations it attempted to offer a glimpse into the dangers of frontier life. Natty Bumpo, Hawkeye or "La Longue Carabine" as the main character was bulletproof and smarter than everyone else altogether. He was famous for his shooting ability and feared by his enemies, mostly the French and some of the Indians. This figure may have originated the phrase “one shot, one kill.” As an aside, the most excellent movie of a few years ago starring Daniel Day-Lewis followed the book very closely until the ending. As in many books of the era, race, interracial relationships and religions figure largely in the narrative. It is a good read and interesting for the difficulty of the stylized prose. There were few internal inconsistencies, the largest involving the kidnapping of the General Munro’s daughters. I am sure he would not have sent his girls into the wilderness without sufficient protection, if at all. Getting past that I recommend this book for someone interested in slightly more than “light reading”.

1 comment:

  1. i enjoyed the book when i read it. also, for the fact that it was written by an individual who was not a "writer" in the classical sense, but an everyman who proved that anyone with decent taste, sense and talent can write a good novel.