Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)

No question a great read; a peek into a time period of our country that does not get much air time. Cooper is trying to illuminate the Eastern Indian wars, I always think of Western Indians however there were many Eastern tribes. These tribes watched there way of life vanish before there eyes (certainly not the 1st or last to suffer this fate.) Cooper gives these "savages" a human mind and heart, something that was in the interest of the "whites" at the time not appreciated.

The old Alta Edition (possibly from 1888) with its slightly brittle old brown pages served me well and performed as intended without hardly a chip. After The Virginian I wanted to stay on the old time adventure theme and by starting it on my vaca I was able to dig-in hard. Cooper gets dinged pretty hard by some readers, he may be more of a love - hate sort of author, but if you can't sit thru this then I'll bet most of your Facebook friends can't either. 

As I said a great read; if the point of reading is to get absorbed into the book or be absorbed by the story then Cooper is not too long winded for me. Aside from the general premise of the book; two young girls head out into the most extreme hostile wilderness conditions imaginable it is a tremendous tale of the times. I love how Hawk-eye continually expounds upon the assured nature of their safety only to be in deep trouble by the next paragraph. Another way Cooper carries the story along and creates suspense is by leaving a character behind, you find yourself asking, well what happened to him? But once you have finally forgot about him, bang he's back again!

The forest primeval imagery is wonderful, a world that is all too hard to find. As with the Virginian, knowing what you are doing out there is a life and death matter, and your reputation for knowing (or not knowing) what you are doing is WHO you are.

It is only after such readings as this that I am forming a picture of what the first 125 years of the Nation were about, as well as what the Europeans were doing from the moment they landed at Plymouth. It was a land grab that had to have a winner and a loser; the Indians had little chance of success and as in The Song of Hiawatha the inevitability of the thing is apparent again.