The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans


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James Fenimore Cooper was the most popular American writer of his day, but today he is best known for The Last of the Mohicans. A part of his Leatherstocking Tales, The Last of the Mohicans takes place in 1757 during the French and Indian War, when France and England battled for control of the American and Canadian colonies. It features Cooper's best-known character, the woodsman Natty Bumppo, also known as "Hawkeye" or "Leatherstocking." Hawkeye is brave, noble, honest and respects the customs of the Indians.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689840685
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 10/15/2002
Series: Scribner Storybook Classics Series
Edition description: Abridged
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 10.20(w) x 11.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was an American novelist whose works include The Last of the Mohicans, The Prairie, The Pathfinder, and The Deerslayer, collectively known as The Leatherstocking Tales.

Date of Birth:

September 15, 1789

Date of Death:

September 14, 1851

Place of Birth:

Burlington, New Jersey

Place of Death:

Cooperstown, New York


Yale University (expelled in 1805)

Read an Excerpt

"Mine ear is open, and my heart prepared:
The worst is worldly loss thou canst unfold:
Say, is my kingdom lost?"


IT was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide and apparently an impervious boundary of forests severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England. The hardy colonist, and the trained European who fought at his side, frequently expended months in struggling against the rapids of the streams, or in effecting the rugged passes of the mountains, in quest of an opportunity to exhibit their courage in a more martial conflict. But, emulating the patience and self-denial of the practised native warriors, they learned to overcome every difficulty; and it would seem that, in time, there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe.

Perhaps no district throughout the wide extent of the intermediate frontiers can furnish a livelier picture of the cruelty and fierceness of the savage warfare of those periods than the country which lies between the head waters of the Hudson and the adjacent lakes.

The facilities which nature had there offered to the march of the combatants were too obvious to be neglected. The lengthened sheet of the Champlain stretched from the frontiers of Canada, deep within the borders of the neighboring province of New York, forming a natural passage across half the distance that the French were compelled to master in order to strike their enemies. Near its southern termination, it received the contributions of another lake, whose waters were so limpid as to have been exclusively selected by the Jesuit missionaries to perform the typical purification of baptism, and to obtain for it the title of lake "du Saint Sacrement." The less zealous English thought they conferred a sufficient honor on its unsullied fountains, when they bestowed the name of their reigning prince, the second of the house of Hanover. The two united to rob the untutored possessors of its wooded scenery of their native right to perpetuate its original appellation of "Horican."

Winding its way among countless islands, and imbedded in mountains, the "holy lake" extended a dozen leagues still farther to the south. With the high plain that there interposed itself to the further passage of the water, commenced a portage of as many miles, which conducted the adventurer to the banks of the Hudson, at a point where, with the usual obstructions of the rapids, or rifts, as they were then termed in the language of the country, the river became navigable to the tide.

While, in the pursuit of their daring plans of annoyance, the restless enterprise of the French even attempted the distant and difficult gorges of the Alleghany, it may easily be imagined that their proverbial acuteness would not overlook the natural advantages of the district we have just described. It became, emphatically, the bloody arena, in which most of the battles for the mastery of the colonies were contested. Forts were erected at the different points that commanded the facilities of the route, and were taken and retaken, rased and rebuilt, as victory alighted on the hostile banners. While the husbandman shrank back from the dangerous passes, within the safer boundaries of the more ancient settlements, armies larger than those that had often disposed of the sceptres of the mother countries, were seen to bury themselves in these forests, whence they rarely returned but in skeleton bands, that were haggard with care, or dejected by defeat. Though the arts of peace were unknown to this fatal region, its forests were alive with men; its shades and glens rang with the sounds of martial music, and the echoes of its mountains threw back the laugh, or repeated the wanton cry, of many a gallant and reckless youth, as he hurried by them, in the noontide of his spirits, to slumber in a long night of forgetfulness.

It was in this scene of strife and bloodshed that the incidents we shall attempt to relate occurred, during the third year of the war which England and France last waged for the possession of a country that neither was destined to retain.

The imbecility of her military leaders abroad, and the fatal want of energy in her councils at home, had lowered the character of Great Britain from the proud elevation on which it had been placed, by the talents and enterprise of her former warriors and statesmen. No longer dreaded by her enemies, her servants were fast losing the confidence of self-respect. In this mortifying abasement, the colonists, though innocent of her imbecility, and too humble to be the agents of her blunders, were but the natural participators.

They had recently seen a chosen army from that country, which, reverencing as a mother, they had blindly believed invincible - an army led by a chief who had been selected from a crowd of trained warriors, for his rare military endowments, disgracefully routed by a handful of French and Indians, and only saved from annihilation by the coolness and spirit of a Virginian boy, whose riper fame has since diffused itself, with the steady influence of moral truth, to the uttermost confines of Christendom. A wide frontier had been laid naked by this unexpected disaster, and more substantial evils were preceded by a thousand fanciful and imaginary dangers. The alarmed colonists believed that the yells of the savages mingled with every fitful gust of wind that issued from the interminable forests of the west. The terrific character of their merciless enemies increased immeasurably the natural horrors of warfare. Numberless recent massacres were still vivid in their recollections; nor was there any ear in the provinces so deaf as not to have drunk in with avidity the narrative of some fearful tale of midnight murder, in which the natives of the forests were the principal and barbarous actors. As the credulous and excited traveller related the hazardous chances of the wilderness, the blood of the timid curdled with terror, and mothers cast anxious glances even at those children which slumbered within the security of the largest towns. In short, the magnifying influence of fear began to set at naught the calculations of reason, and to render those who should have remembered their manhood, the slaves of the basest of passions. Even the most confident and the stoutest hearts began to think the issue of the contest was becoming doubtful; and that abject class was hourly increasing in numbers, who thought they foresaw all the possessions of the English crown in America subdued by their Christian foes, or laid waste by the inroads of their relentless allies.

When, therefore, intelligence was received at the fort, which covered the southern termination of the portage between the Hudson and the lakes, that Montcalm had been seen moving up the Champlain, with an army "numerous as the leaves on the trees," its truth was admitted with more of the craven reluctance of fear than with the stern joy that a warrior should feel, in finding an enemy within reach of his blow. The news had been brought, towards the decline of a day in midsummer, by an Indian runner, who also bore an urgent request from Munro, the commander of a work on the shore of the "holy lake," for a speedy and powerful reinforcement. It has already been mentioned that the distance between these two posts was less than five leagues. The rude path, which originally formed their line of communication, had been widened for the passage of wagons; so that the distance which had been travelled by the son of the forest in two hours, might easily be effected by a detachment of troops, with their necessary baggage, between the rising and setting of a summer sun. The loyal servants of the British crown had given to one of these forest fastnesses the name of William Henry, and to the other that of Fort Edward; calling each after a favorite prince of the reigning family. The veteran Scotchman just named held the first, with a regiment of regulars and a few provincials; a force really by far too small to make head against the formidable power that Montcalm was leading to the foot of his earthen mounds. At the latter, however, lay General Webb, who commanded the armies of the king in the northern provinces, with a body of more than five thousand men. By uniting the several detachments of his command, this officer might have arrayed nearly double that number of combatants against the enterprising Frenchman, who had ventured so far from his reinforcements, with an army but little superior in numbers.

But under the influence of their degraded fortunes, both officers and men appeared better disposed to await the approach of their formidable antagonists, within their works, than to resist the progress of their march, by emulating the successful example of the French at Fort du Quesne, and striking a blow on their advance.

After the first surprise of the intelligence had a little abated, a rumor was spread through the entrenched camp, which stretched along the margin of the Hudson, forming a chain of outworks to the body of the fort itself, that a chosen detachment of fifteen hundred men was to depart, with the dawn, for William Henry, the post at the northern extremity of the portage. That which at first was only rumor, soon became certainty, as orders passed from the quarters of the commander-in-chief to the several corps he had selected for this service, to prepare for their speedy departure. All doubt as to the intention of Webb now vanished, and an hour or two of hurried footsteps and anxious faces succeeded. The novice in the military art flew from point to point, retarding his own preparations by the excess of his violent and somewhat distempered zeal; while the more practised veteran made his arrangements with a deliberation that scorned every appearance of haste; though his sober lineaments and anxious eye sufficiently betrayed that he had no very strong professional relish for the as yet untried and dreaded warfare of the wilderness. At length the sun set in a flood of glory, behind the distant western hills, and as darkness drew its veil around the secluded spot the sounds of preparation diminished; the last light finally disappeared from the log cabin of some officer; the trees cast their deeper shadows over the mounds and the rippling stream, and a silence soon pervaded the camp, as deep as that which reigned in the vast forest by which it was environed.

What People are Saying About This

D. H. Lawrence

In his immortal friendship of Chingachgook and Matty Bumppo [Cooper] dreamed the nucleus of a new society….A stark stripped human relationship of two men, deeper than the deeps of sex. Deeper than property, deeper than fatherhood, deeper than marriage, deeper than Love.

James Franklin Beard

The Last of the Mohicans raises again the question of the efficacy of human effort to control irrational forces at work in individual men, races, and nations. The question has never been more pertinent than now.

Reading Group Guide

1. How do Cooper's characters, specifically Natty Bumppo and the Indian Magua, test the boundary between Indian and white cultures? What happens to these characters? How does the metaphorical racial boundary extend to that between wilderness and cultivated land, if at all?

2. What are the differences Cooper outlines between the Mohicans and the Delawares, and to what end? What role does Uncas play in the conflict between the two tribes? What is the significance of his relationship with Cora?

3. How does Natty Bumppo's view of society oppose Munro's, particularly at the novel's conclusion? How do Natty's views support or contradict his own existence, straddling two worlds as he does? How does this deep-rooted ambivalence about social and racial hierarchy inform the novel?

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The Last of the Mohicans 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Last of the Mohicans was an interesting and very detailed portrayal of a small group in the middle of the French and Indian War. I liked it a lot and would like to read more of James Fenimore Cooper¿s novels sometime. I know that many people enjoyed the movie, but to get the whole picture, you really need to read the book. The movie is great, I agree, but I just liked to book better (then again, when is it that you ever like a movie more than the book?). Though not my favourite classic, it is still an amazing book, very worthy of anyone¿s reading time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Fenimore Cooper's novel, The last of the Mohincans, tells the story of the colonial scout Hawkeye, real name Natty Bumppo, with his 2 Indian companions Changachgook (his Mohican father) and his mohican brother Uncas. They stumble onto a party of British soldiers conducting 2 fair maidens (names Alice and Cora) traveling to their father Colonel Munro, who is the commander of the British Fort William Henry during the French and Indian War. They are being treacherously lead by a huron scout Magua who intends to hurt the 2 girls in order to get to their father the Colonel. I thought that The Last of the Mohicans was a very interesting piece of work. The book has a compelling story and great characters. Any one that is interested in historical fiction should read this book. The aouther tells this story in chronological order and in third person. He was very descriptive and precise in writing this novel. It is filled with action and adventure. It has a heart felt story with a sad, but meaningful conclusion that is poignant and well thought out. It gives you a sence of guilt to anyone that is from a British/ French heritage. It makes you realize what is the real goal of English or French society, putting risk on lives and ancient cultural heritage of the Native American people? Or have a few extra acres of land? I think that anyone who loves reading and have a plot that makes their mind work a little, would have the privelege of reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I admit to looking up the meanings for many words being a trifle irritating, this was an enrichement to my understanding, a revelation as to the customs of the tribes of northernmost American Indians, and the story of the momentous passage of one culture to anothers assemilation and domination.
RebeccaGraf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Classic American stories are part of our lives. We read books on them, references in television series, and watch movies on them. But when we read the actual classic, we find that what we thought it was about is slightly different. The Last of the Mohicans is no different.James Fenimore Cooper wrote a classic that is read in most schools across the country. It¿s the story of 2 young English women on a journey to see their father who is a leader in the British Army. With an escort of British military and one native scout they find themselves ambushed. They are saved by a scout and 2 other natives. The fighting amongst the French, English, and native tribes gives Cooper a plethora of material for an intricate plot.This proved to more difficult of a read than I remember from high school when I read it. Maybe it is because I¿ve read so many more contemporary versions and watched movies. There are several scenes were the dialogue is only in French. Sorry, I know about three words in that language. Also, so much description was placed that I¿d forget what was happening in the scene.Now, I have to admit how movies ruined Cooper¿s book for me. The movie with Daniel Daye Lewis was great. I loved it. When I just reread the book, I was so disappointed because the storyline is so different. The book has Alice and Duncan in love. The move has Hawkeye and Cora. There are many other differences, but I would be spoiling the reading experience.If you have not read the book yet, try not to see any movies on it first. It will make the experience so much more enjoyable.Note: This book was free as a public domain piece of literature.
janemarieprice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time getting into this book. It is a very interesting plot but the manner in which it is written made it pretty tedious for me. I also felt like things dragged on a bit much.
HankIII on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fenimore writes with sentimental flair which can certainly annoy and irritate:1) the lofty narrative tone 2) the ornate convoluted language 3) the unconvincing dialogue 4) the unconvincing, one-dimensional characterization, and these are all there to repell any reader.However, there were times in my reading that I no longer had that plodding feeling, and I contribute that loss of annoyance to a few factors as the plot unfolded.The setting: I found Fenimore¿s description of the lush and dense foliage, the mountains, and the landscape of the early upper state New York wilderness as interesting and detailed, serving as a convincing foundation and revealing it as very much an obstacle in the French and Indian War. The culture: Fenimore delves into the various customs and tribal politics of the Hurons and Delawares. Yes, the scalping is all there, but it's the inter-personal relationships and how they are dealt with between Chigachgook and the Hurons. And of course, Hawkeye, clearly a man who has cast off civilation, preferring to live with the confines of the wilderness where contamination of western society are far and few between. When the sentimental language tended to be a bit much (which was frequent) I would remind myself that the novel was geared toward entertaining current readers of that time (with no i-pods and computers, something to bear in mind). There were a few times in the novel I found myself confused to what was happening, but strove on. I can't say this was an enjoyable read; I can say it was an unusual reading experience, and for the most part a painless one. It could have been worse--it could have been Faulkner. I actually have a desire to read the rest of The Leather Stocking Tales.
jolerie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The title of the story pretty much sums up the main storyline. The Last of the Mohicans is surprise, about the last of the Mohicans. Well if you want to be technical, it's about the last two Mohicans, a Father and his Son, but based on the title of the story, you can pretty much guess what happens at the end. The story is centred around two sisters, Cora and Alice who are the daughters of a British General. They are travelling back to meet up with their Father at one of the British trading posts when they are betrayed by an Indian guide (antagonist) who is supposed to show them they way through the wilderness. Long story short, the girls are caught and then freed and then caught again (this happens multiple times) and during this whole time, the Mohicans and their friend, the Scout (I am assuming he is British as well) who are the protagonist of the story are in constant pursuit to rescue these two damsels from the perils of their captors - the savages.As with so many other classics that I've read in the past, the first couple of chapters are always the most laborious to read as it takes me some time to catch onto the idioms and the language that these books usually take. I often find that I am reading the same paragraphs multiple times in order to wrap my mind around what the author is trying to convey. Overall The Last of the Mohicans was a pleasant enough read. There were certain portions of the book that keep me going while other parts rather dragged (after the second rescue and capture, it got rather annoying), and my mind would start wandering. With a little dash of adventure and a smidgeon of romance, the story passed relatively quickly for the most part. If you are a lover of Classics then I would definitely give this book a chance, but otherwise, for most readers, I think time could be better spent elsewhere.
choochtriplem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a history major in college and even studied much about the French and Indian War. The movie of the same title is great, so I thought the book would be worth a read. I was very, very wrong. The book is a long and rather awful read. I hate to say such bad things about a famous American novel and writer, but the story just did not make much sense sometimes and the narrative was long and very hard to read. If you like the movie, the story is completely different. It may be worth a read if you have the time.
lindseyrivers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who knew a book so full of action could be so boring? I didn't even cry at the end,,,
snat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If time travel were possible, I'd go back in time and assassinate James Fenimore Cooper before he ever put pen to paper (in this imaginary scenario, let it be known that I also possess mad ninja skills). Why do I hate Cooper so much? Let me count the ways:1) His never-ending description of every rock, twig, river, etc., that the main characters come into contact with. No pebble escapes his scrutiny. This book would have been 3 pages long without the description. And even then, it would have been 3 pages too long.2) Native American dialogue is limited to the occasional exclamation of "Hugh." Not Hugh as in Hefner, but something more like "huh." They're a quiet people, apparently. I'm shocked they don't greet each other by saying, "How."2 1/2) While we're on the subject, they're all stereotypes of either the noble savage variety or the "me big chief Ugh-a-Mug gotta have 'em squaw" variety. The whole thing is a racist piece of crap. And don't tell me that Cooper was reflecting the beliefs of the time because, while that may explain the racism, it doesn't explain away the crap bit.3) Practically every speech by Hawk-eye will contain some bit of dialogue such as, "Even though white blood runs through my veins." Lest we forget he's white since he's been hobnobbing with the natives for so long.4) Those damn women just keep getting kidnapped.5) For an action story, it's mind-numbingly boring. To illustrate, I give you a riveting, action packed scene in which Duncan, the British officer, tries to distract le Renard Subtil (also known as Magua, also known as Wes Studi in the film) with a discussion of French etymology. Dash cunning of him, don't you think? It sure would have sucked if he had just attacked him with a knife, a gun, or even a rapier wit. Apparently Duncan's plan was to wear down his enemy with sheer boredom:'Here is some confusion in names between us, le Renard,' said Duncan, hoping to provoke a discussion. 'Daim is the French for deer, and cerf for stag; elan is the true term, when one would speak of an elk.'6) Everyone is known by about three or four different names, because anything less would have been confusing. Right, Coop?7) Did I mention that it's just frickin' boring? I would rather slam my head in a car door than ever read this book again.The best part about the book was that there were entire sections in French. For once, lack of knowledge about a foreign language has paid off! I was practically giddy with excitement when I encountered entire pages of French dialogue as it meant, mon Dieu!, I got to skip the entire page.
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of those icons of American literature that everyone has heard about, but not everyone gets around to actually reading. I don't know why I had never picked it up before, unless maybe I read something of Cooper's in school and didn't enjoy it. But I decided to see for myself what it was all about.Despite my expectations, the book was pretty easy to read. There were a few times when I skimmed through, especially towards the end, but there was a lot of action and the story was interesting. It is quite different from modern books in a couple of ways. First, the dialogue. Nobody speaks like that! In fact, I doubt they ever spoke like that! Usually it was just sort of one of those things you read and don't think about, but a couple of times it actually brought me back out of the story, especially when Hawkeye would use some dialectal spelling of a word which didn't need any spelling change in the first place. So that was sometimes disconcerting.The other major shift is the whole 'noble savage' thing. See, it starts with these two sisters who are daughters of an English - well, Scottish major, who is defending a fort from some French soldiers and Indians. They want to travel from one fort to another to meet him. They get captured, and lost, and rescued, and then arrive and a bunch more adventures ensue. They are rescued by Hawkeye and his two companions, both Mohicans. Somehow, there's all this stuff in there that translates into Bad Indian versus Good Indian. It's all pretty dated. If you ask me, none of them were all that noble! What's with all the scalping and dashing babies brains out? But Uncas and his father, the two Mohicans, were certainly more the heroic type. I just have to wonder how much of this is romanticized, and I think the answer is, most of it. It was still a good story, but I think modern readers would find it a little hard to puzzle out. I was helped a lot by and their reader's guide. 3 stars because it is a good story, but it's not really told in a way that I loved.
SweetbriarPoet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think people get mad at this book because it is written in the romantic style. Of course there is lofty language, of course it is strewn with figurative language and idealistic undertones. In fact, that is what made the novel revolutionary (not to mention an unseen-before anthropologist's cultural relativity..sort of.) If you don't like sentimentalism...then don't read fiction from the romantic period in America. And by romantic I don't mean love, I mean a deference to natural surroundings and a higher appreciation for artistry and sentimentalism. The characters are well developed, believable in that larger-than-life way. There is a proper hero, a fallen woman, an epic grace to the way the story flows. War and adventure is at the forefront, and a there is a hint of travel, journey, experience. To anyone who understands why historic literature is the way it is, I recommend this four star book.
crunky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
--May contain minor spoilers--This novel held a few charms, but none were sustained throughout. Although the plot is one of adventure and suspense, to the modern reader the prose and dialogue often come off as goofy at best. The multiple epithets for each character, for example, imply a sense of grandeur to the pageant that simply wasn't there. The sentence structure, the narrative voice, the epigraphs that preface each chapter and the dialogue all shared in this effect. I was initially entertained by Cooper's eagerness to please, but eventually groans and eye-rolls began to take their toll. The book is at its best when we're getting to know the characters. I became fond of Major Heyward, and much preferred his character to that of Hawkeye the scout. Hawkeye is likely meant to be portrayed as an amazing hero, but he starts out as a completely insufferable know-it-all. (Hawkeye becomes much more tolerable in the final third of the book, but by that point the book has other problems...) I enjoyed the banter with Gamut, the descriptions of the Munro family's love for and loyalty to one another, and the portrayal of Uncas's and Chingachgook's relationship. Magua makes a worthy foe.Memorably, whenever a character is engaged in a debate or is called upon to make a stirring speech, Cooper goes to great lengths to describe the rhetorical strategy, cunning, and eloquence that must be employed for the occasion. One is asked to hear the listeners of these speeches oooh and aaah as Cooper praises the words of his noble and ignoble characters. These speeches on the page, however, are never all that different from how he has any given character speak the most casual dialogue anyway. It's goofball stuff.Cooper asks for a heavy suspension of disbelief when it comes to the amazing prowess of Hawkeye, but even this does not prepare one for later chapters featuring characters infiltrating enemy villages by wearing... a bear costume. (There was also a brief moment of a character blending in with some beavers.) There are truly impressive moments in the book (the massacre outside the fort, for example) but having recently finished it I just can't take it seriously--I'm hung up on the complete cheese of the hero crawling around disguised as a gruff but domesticated bear and getting away with it. Only the experienced eye of Uncas can notice the subtle differences between this farce and the real thing! I read this book out of literary/historical interest, and I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed it at times, although maybe not for the reasons Cooper may have intended. My curiosity is now satisfied, and I will not be looking to read more Cooper.
gooneruk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This week, I finished The Last Of The Mohicans, which took me a bit longer than most books of that length. The writing was particularly dense and descriptive, so I wasn¿t getting through as many pages as I would in a lighter book. I¿ve not seen the film, so the whole story was new to me, which is always a bonus.I really enjoyed this one, and it¿s the first classic I¿ve dipped into for a couple of months. It¿s easy to lose yourself in the 18th century American wilderness, and the characters are well fleshed out. I¿ll say this for Cooper: he can write battle scenes brilliantly. Every assault by Indians, or attempt to hold a position by the heroes, was captured in a manner which got my heart pounding from paragraph to paragraph, and put the images in my head as clearly as if I were standing in the middle of that forest.Having said that, I thought the writing style as a whole was over-descriptive. I¿m more of a fan of a more minimalist style, probably as a result of reading a lot of contemporary works. When writing gets too wordy, it can become difficult to get through and less enjoyable for me. That¿s probably why this book was a bit of a slog each day.Nevertheless, I¿m glad I persevered. I tried to read this book years ago, when I was about 18 or something, and gave up after about 20 pages because it just didn¿t grab me. It¿s been sat on my shelf since, and it was definitely worth picking up again.
TheTwoDs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cooper's famous tale of the white scout Hawkeye (aka Natty Bumppo aka La Longue Carabine) who has forsaken the growing materialism of "civilized" society to live amongst the natives in the woods of 18th century New York offers what should have been a lively tale of adventure. The year is 1757, the French and Indian War rages in North America, both the British and French having their own Indian allies. The daughters of a British commander, Munro, must travel from Fort Edward to Fort William Henry, guided by a Huron whom their father trusts. That Huron, Magua, turns out to be an ersatz ally of the French commander Montcalm. Hawkeye and his companions, father and son Chingachgook and Uncas, rescue the daughters, Cora and Alice. They lose them to Magua and his band of Huron. They rescue them again. Then, when they finally arrive at Fort William Henry, it is nearly too late as the French have it under a ferocious siege. Munro surrenders the fort to Montcalm who lets the British troops retreat to Fort Edward. Magua has other designs and attacks and massacres the British, yet again kidnapping the Munro girls.The racial and gender views of the time are repeatedly brought forth in the narrative, and this is not just Cooper regurgitating beliefs from 100 years prior to his writing. In the preface, Cooper himself states that women should not read his book as they won't like it, it's too manly. On practically every other page, Hawkeye, while treating his two Delaware as of his own family, reminds his white companions and the reader that his blood has no cross, meaning no cross-contamination with native blood. After a dozen or so instances, it gets incredibly trying seeing it on the page again and again.Somewhere inside is a great adventure story, but you have to get through a multitude of asides, 18th century racial philosophy that is repeatedly placed in the reader's face and a density of language beyond the usual anachronistics of early 19th century literature. It still, however, retains its place in literary history as one of the earliest examples of the American novel.
HenryG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having to read this in high school is one of the things that made me think I hated to read. I'm sure there are those for whom this is their cup of tea, but it should never be inflicted on high school students! It seemed like it was about a guy who walked around in the woods for hundreds of pages. Granted, my experience with it might be different as an adult, but I don't see myself trying again with this one.
soylentgreen23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cooper claimed he could write a better book than most that were printed in the day, and this is the result of his efforts. It remains surprisingly readable, for such an early work, although compared to the refined movie it is a little bloated.
euqubud on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Michael Mann completed Last of the Mohicans, it was delayed for three months (and out of the profitable summer season) as someone introduced to him the concept of editing. Having trimmed the movie from three hours to less than two, leaving out important scenes and axing whole characters from the story, as well as killing others off early, he still managed to improve upon the original work threefold.Mark Twain has his own opinions which I will be wise to leave to him. They can be read here, in his subtly titled Fenimore Cooper¿s Literary Offenses. If you have the time, I suggest reading it, if only because any amount of time can be spent in worse ways than reading Twain. His essay is more concerned with the rather peculiar physics that dominate the Cooperian landscape. I, slogging through the book in front of a campfire reading by lantern light, disregarded these literary conceits in self-defense, preferring to focus the greater part of my mental energies on remembering where one of the characters has been for the last fifty pages or so.Last of the Mohicans is, by and large, an excellent story, when described to you by someone who has already read the book (or, sadly, seen the movie). Yes, the bad guy slips from the heroes fingers often enough that you assume he has a twirly mustache. Sure, it has a boat chase with canoes and the heroine gets kidnapped no less than three times. But the story¿s there, and it¿s interesting. It¿s just a pity that Cooper has to be the one to tell it, in the sense that Cooper wrote American fiction the way that Charlotte Bronte would write a Western. Oh, the dialogue:Hawkeye, on noticing a sniper in the trees:"This must be looked to!" said the scout, glancing about him with an anxious eye. "Uncas, call up your father; we have need of all our we¿pons to bring the cunning varment from his roost."Duncan, in the same battle:"That bullet was better aimed than common!" exclaimed Duncan, involuntarily shrinking from a shot which struck the rock at his side with a smart rebound.People did not talk like this in 1757, nor did they in 1831, nor will they ever. This is because Cooper¿s characters are not actually humans at all, but wound-up automatons whose sole function is to carry the story through its various settings and plot twists. Even then, the greatest potential that these twists present are wasted: the relationships between Alice and Duncan, Uncas and Cora, are glazed over, as though Cooper wasn¿t interested in anything that didn¿t include gunpowder. Romantic subplots have instead been persistently stuffed into the work by zealous critics, likely in attempt to give high school English teachers new ways to torture their students with subtext.
hvhay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really did not enjoy this at all. The characters were one dimensional and the plot was boring as well as unbelievable. I understand that Cooper had a pretty high opinion of his writing but I don't think the books have stood the test of time.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It really isn't quite my kind of the thing but it is an interesting read. It's littered with things that show a lot about the world it was written in and the life on the frontier. The women seem to be there to be rescued and honestly I preferred the film rather than the story. If I had read it when I was in my teens I might regard it in the same way as Kim and revisit occasionally but while it's something I don't regret reading, it's not one I will be hunting up to add to the collection.It's very wordy, very detailed and a story that is more about the frontier than the people. I can see how it influenced many writers but I can also see how it is disliked by many people today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful classic that is still a great read. ~*~LEB~*~
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She goes to a table to sit. Her blue crystalized dress gets in her way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His mask was ovalish and white, that of a wickedly smiling face. He grips two bottle of absinthe in both of his hands.