Those accustomed to the short chapters and short sentences of the likes of Dan Brown will find Cooper's style stilted. But those who like to cosy up with their books and savour the worlds they evoke will enjoy the beautifully constructed sentences. The punctuation and some spelling is dated. In the dialogue Cooper deliberately misspells some words in order to reproduce the uneducated pronunciation of some characters (conf. some of the miners' dialogue in D. H. Lawrence's works is practically unintelligible). Of course nobody speaks like Cooper's characters, but then nobody speaks like Shakespeare's or indeed like those in Hollywood movies. The action is slow but engaging, the descriptions of nature glorious, and the race relations are very well presented considering the time the book was written. Excellent introduction to the equally excellent "The Last of the Mohicans" (forget the movie) and "The Pathfinder", which follow chronologically in terms of action.
"Deerslayer is the name I bear now. . ."
Did James Fenimore Cooper invent the prequel? "The Deerslayer" is the fifth entry in the 5 books known collectively as the "Leatherstocking Tales," but the action takes place before the other books. It's easy to mock Cooper, who along with Washington Irving, was really our first professional writer. Yes, his prose can be clumsy, his plotting heavy, and his romantic spirit a little corny. Twain castigated him for writing "about the poorest English that exists in our language." Ouch. Prose aside, Cooper created an iconic character in Natty Bumpo (aka Hawkeye, aka Deerslayer), the archetypal lone man in the wilderness. Conscious of myth-making (similar to Walter Scott), he set the stage for generations of American writers who dealt with nature, the defects of civilization, and Native Americans. His treatment of the latter veers towards sentimentality, but there is more nuance and understanding than he's often give credit for. An essential series for understanding American lit. and American mythology.
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