"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.