Mark Twain had fun skewering James Fenimore Cooper and other Romantics (including Jane Austen, a fave of mine!), contending that his works were cliched and his writing style was verbose. Well, I have to agree. However, remember that this novel was published 50 years before "Tom Sawyer" and represents an older style of writing. Also, part of the reason "The Last of the Mohicans" seems like a cliche is because it essentially invented the heroic frontier figure, and it has become a permanent part of American culture; wildly popular, the Leatherstocking tales were the "Star Wars" of their day. Yes, the plot is contrived in places, and yes, the characters -- especially the women -- are rather wooden. However, it is still a rollicking good yarn.
I chose this Kindle edition because it has a companion Audible version, which is read very ably by Larry McKeever. It has the "Whispersync for Voice" capacity, where you can switch between reading and...
I first read Cooper's novel in high school and found it exceedingly difficult to get through, but since I was obsessed with the Daniel Day-Lewis movie version that had just come out in theatres, I wanted to give the book a try. Granted, this is by no means a modern novel. As a literary form, the novel was still in its infancy when Cooper wrote his book. Now coming back to it years later, I can better appreciate how much the narrative does achieve. It's a great adventure story at heart, but also a story that looks at the gaps between cultures and how various people manage. For its time, Cooper's book achieved quite a lot and set a higher standard for novels that followed.
Difficult to adjust to the writing style? No doubt. Patience required even then? Yes. Nevertheless an artfully and skillfully accomplished novel? Absolutely.
This book is so descriptive and tedious in its setting because the merciless and rugged wilderness of N. American before colonisation and Europeans ultimately conquered it was in and of itself one of the primary characters in the novel, just as important as that of the Mohicans, their Indian foes, and the white settlers. While it's a work of fiction, in order to fully understand the tale, it forced me to educate myself on the history of the French-Indian War, most of which it appears I'd forgotten.
I'd recommend this book to those interested in the history of colonisation of N. American and certainly anyone interested in Native American culture and the clash between it and the white settlers. A beautiful piece of work.
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