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The Leatherstocking Tales #2

The Last of the Mohicans

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The wild rush of action in this classic frontier adventure story has made The Last of the Mohicans the most popular of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. Deep in the forests of upper New York State, the brave woodsman Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and his loyal Mohican friends Chingachgook and Uncas become embroiled in the bloody battles of the French and Indian War. The abduction of the beautiful Munro sisters by hostile savages, the treachery of the renegade brave Magua, the ambush of innocent settlers, and the thrilling events that lead to the final tragic confrontation between rival war parties create an unforgettable, spine-tingling picture of life on the frontier. And as the idyllic wilderness gives way to the forces of civilization, the novel presents a moving portrayal of a vanishing race and the end of its way of life in the great American forests.

410 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 1826

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About the author

James Fenimore Cooper

3,072 books790 followers
James Fenimore Cooper was a popular and prolific American writer. He is best known for his historical novel The Last of the Mohicans, one of the Leatherstocking Tales stories, and he also wrote political fiction, maritime fiction, travelogues, and essays on the American politics of the time. His daughter Susan Fenimore Cooper was also a writer.

Series:
* The Leatherstocking Tales
* The Littlepage Manuscripts
* Afloat and Ashore
* Homeward Bound

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,127 reviews
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews315 followers
August 14, 2009
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., with which the main characters come into contact. No pebble escapes his scrutiny, no leaf his lingering gaze. 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:

'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.'


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 is to wear down his enemy with sheer boredom.

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 is that there are 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.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
March 13, 2020

What can one say about Cooper? His historical imagination is profound, his creative use of the gothic landscape is uniquely American, and his influence on plot and characterization in American fiction--including, I recently discovered, South American fiction--is pervasive and extensive. Yet his diction is so often trite, his style so plodding and crabbed, his syntax so convoluted, that it is difficult to read more than a few pages of "The Last of the Mohicans" without throwing the book across the room in disgust.

That's a pity, for Cooper helped shape an early and influential interpretation of American history--later adopted by the narrative historian (and formidable literary stylist) Francis Parkman--that combines an elegiac appreciation for a disappearing wilderness, a wilderness which helped to shape and define the American character, with a critical examination of how that character in its turn formed the emerging democratic state. He shows us how Protestant middle class English values are more suited to egalitarianism than the aristocrat instincts of the Catholic French, and embodies this egalitarianism and spirit of the wilderness in the character of the scout "Hawkeye."

Hawkeye is an offshoot of Protestant New England, raised in the forest and purged of the petty theological distractions of Christianity (the "man without a cross"). He knows the secrets of the wilderness and appreciates Native Americans just as they are, acknowledging both their nobility and their savagery. He also understands the British soldiers and settlers, but, although he can move effortlessly between the two worlds, he is never completely comfortable in either. He lends his talents to others, but, remaining a solitary even in communion, he cuts his own path through the trees.

There you have it : America's first Western hero, the father of such true-hearted stalwarts as dime novel Buffalo Bill and radio's The Lone Ranger, as well as the sire of such complicated incarnations as John Wayne's Ethan Edwards and Clint Eastwood's Will Munny. And let's not forget such bastard offspring as Cormac McCarthy's Judge Holden and Ishmael Reed's The Loop Garoo Kid.

Quite a legacy indeed! If only his books weren't so badly written, his originality and vision would have earned him a place in the American pantheon right up there with Hawthorne and Poe.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,149 reviews1,681 followers
January 18, 2022
HAWKEYE


Longue-Carabine e Cora nel film omonimo, capolavoro diretto da Michael Mann nel 1992.

Occorre superare la strana sensazione che nel mezzo della foresta selvaggia, tra lupi feroci, indiani assetati di sangue e scalpi, francesi ostili e infidi, i vari personaggi protagonisti si stiano intrattenendo l’un l’altro con giochi di parole ed eloquio fiorito, manco fossero a corte, manco avessero tutti appena finito di vedere il bel film di Patrice Leconte Ridicule.


Nat-Hawkeye-Longue Carabine, Chingachgook e Uncas in azione.

Occorre superare anche l’ampollosità delle descrizioni, quello che da qualche parte viene definito , la tendenza a complicare quanto potrebbe essere semplice al punto che in più parti si resta nel dubbio su ciò che si è appena letto (e quante volte ho dovuto aggrapparmi alle immagini del film per chiarire un concetto).



Occorre superare la mancanza di tensione, la costruzione (e l’esposizione) del racconto ampollosa, l’assenza di forza emotiva, l’abilità di sapere distruggere ogni picco di tensione, di annacquare ogni bel momento nell’eccesso di dialogo, nella verbosità generale (non sono solo i personaggi, particolarmente quelli bianchi, a straparlare: è proprio Fenimore Cooper a farlo).



Occorre superare la fantastica puntualità degli incontri nella foresta selvaggia tra Occhio-di-falco (Natty Bumpoo alias Calza-di-cuoio alias La-longue-carabine) e Chingachgook, l’artificiosità degli interminabili dialoghi affettati – e dio ci salvi dai goffissimi tentativi di umorismo di Fenimore Cooper - l’assenza di spessore della maggior parte dei personaggi, occorre credere che nella stessa foresta selvaggia tutti i cespugli possano riempirsi di indiani ostili.



Occorre superare un narratore in terza persona invadente, che distrae, disturba, molesta il lettore.
Occorre superare un sacco di cose, decisamente troppo. Chi me lo fa fare?
Io torno a rivedere il magnifico film di Michael Mann che quello sì è puro godimento dal primo all’ultimo istante.

Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
November 27, 2019
I was always a big fan of the 1992 Michael Mann film starring Daniel Day Lewis, and so I finally read the original.

First of all, that movie is loosely based upon the book and it turns out Mann never even read the original but based his film on the 1936 film script. Cooper published the work in 1826 so there is that florid, adjective laden prose that reads like a thesaurus smeared with molasses. But for its time I can see how it was viewed as a masterpiece and can definitely see how so much literature since has been influenced by this story.

Was Hawkeye the original American hero? Independent, resourceful, rugged and casually violent, he may have been the archetype for many literary characters and may have done much to influence American culture as well. The book is also graphically violent, several scenes could have been lifted from a Cormack McCarthy novel, but Cooper was probably portraying an accurate depiction of a rough time.

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Profile Image for ``Laurie.
196 reviews
July 22, 2022
Have you ever wondered what life was like during the American frontier era of the early 1800's, before civilization encroached upon its wildness and beauty? If so, you might consider reading this first book in Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales."

Cooper's account was realistic and informative as he had a first hand knowledge of that time and place.
His life would be be lived on the edge of civilization in the American frontier town of Cooperstown, New York, founded by his father.

I'm not going to say that this book was easy reading, but with a little patience you will learn much of the unspoiled American frontier with Cooper's exact and fascinating descriptions of the flora and fauna.

Until the invention of a time machine, I will have to content myself with Cooper's detailed account of life in the primeval America frontier.

Cooper tells of the harmonious lifestyle of the Native Americans, living off the land and their respect for nature. I've often wondered what life would be like living off the land in such a manner so I found reading this book a learning experience in that aspect as well.

Cooper's knowledge of the Native American lifestyle and its destruction with the advancement of civilization, is also related in this classic book. Decimated by disease and intermingling with the white race removed their way of life forever.

The noble Chingachgook and his beloved son Uncas, together with his adopted son Natty Bumppo, better known as Hawkeye, are the last pure blood natives of the Mohican nation. They are making their way to Kentucky to find a wife for young Uncas.

Their mission is interrupted by the French and Indian War which will irrevocably change their way of life forever.
As they discover a ravaged frontier settlement with all the inhabitants savagely murdered, they soon learn that their Huron enemies are responsible for this heinous attack.

They continue their journey cautiously and arrive just in time to save a regiment of English soldiers under attack from the Huron nation. The Hurons under the leadership of Magua have allied themselves with the French army.

The English regiment, lead by the tiresome Major Duncan Heywood, along with the Munro sisters, making their way to Fort William Henry and are the only survivors of the Huron assault.

They have no idea that Fort William Henry is under attack, as Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas, attempt to safely deliver the Munro sisters to their father.

From this point onward, this threesome's intrepid attempts to save the Munro sisters from Magua and his Huron warriors will take your breath away. Their journey to safety makes this classic a harrowing tale of action/adventure.

The end of this sad tale has the ancient Chingachgook the only surviving member of the Mohican nation, which Cooper uses to illustrate the advancement and destruction by civilization upon the primeval American forest and the beauty that once existed.

The tragic Chingachgook will break your heart as he accepts the destruction of his family, tribe and way of life, as the last living member of the Mohican nation. He patiently looks forward to the day when he will once again rejoin them in the afterlife. Could any fate be more heartrending?

Cooper's classic Leatherstocking tales, consisting of 5 books, relate the adventures of Natty Bumppo, which would become popular in America as well as Europe.

Whether or not you are a fan of historical fiction, I wish you would give this book a chance at least.

For those interested, I'm posting a link to the hypnotic soundtrack, which also has a cult following.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iyLp...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVjwB...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O40q...

Enjoy!
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,225 followers
March 5, 2022
For many years I steered clear of this, on the recommendation of friends, lol! But then someone double-dog dared me to read it. I scoffed at the mere double! However they then triple-dog dared me, the fiend! GAME...ON...

Very popular in its time, The Last of the Mohicans is a historical fiction written in the 1820s and set in the 1750s during the French and Indian War in which a small party of British colonists and their Indian guides journey through the upstate New York wilderness defending themselves from their French and Indian enemies.

James Fenimore Cooper brought insight into the lives of the Native Americans in a way seldom seen at a time when the people of these many new world tribes were mostly reviled as hostile savages. Back when it was published The Last of the Mohicans must have seemed revolutionary. Were it tweaked into the non-fiction Cooper half seemed to be trying to write, perhaps I would have enjoyed it for what it was.


Profile Image for MihaElla .
205 reviews340 followers
March 29, 2023
I protest! I protest because I was led to believe that this tale is a true one (that’s of course what my heated imagination wanted to tell after plunging myself head along in it). I protest because the author chose this unfortunate word in the title ‘the last…’! I protest that I have been completely seduced by this remarkable historical narrative. I protest that I protest!



I am wondering if this makes me be a redskin, considering this outrageous exhibition of protest! I think I am. I just don’t remember what my name used to be. Sad, very sad :(



I have read this novel with my heart constantly leaping straight to my throat. I protest for this too! How can a reading take place in such uncomfortable state of being? I felt all the time like I was being chased by some terrifying savages and so I ought to employ all the means to save my life. My life seemingly hasn’t been so precious to me like it has felt whilst having immersed myself so absurdly and without any protest (though again I protest for my failing to protest) unto the pages of this book.



Ok. I admit that there is a lot of obscurity and confusion in some trying, very desperate scenes of the narrative, but this hasn’t spoiled a bit my mounting admiration and excitement while turning the pages, with an ardour that caused some mental burning too. It was wonderful how it was depicted the great diversity of the Indian traditions, the Indian themselves as warriors and their remarkable qualities, as individuals but also as part of the tribes they were assumed to live.



Ok. There is a lot of war scenes – that is colonial wars of North America, and troubles caused by the war over land, over authority, over the people, conflict begun because of the palefaces coming from over the Eastern big sea, which nowadays is called an ocean.



Ok. We all know or at least pretend to acknowledge that the redskins – the American Indians – were the possessors of their country, first occupied by the Europeans in this portion of the continent (north-eastern America), consequently the first dispossessed, and there is no surprise on the seemingly inevitable fate of all these people. I feel there is enough historical truth in this picture.



Ok. There is a whole lot of wilderness in which the incidents of the narrated legend occurred. My mind was simply overwhelmed trying to picture all that area, though nowadays the red man has entirely deserted it. But then we live at so far away distance, both in time and place…



Ah. I am at a loss to say who attracted me more: Uncas or Hawk-eye. Without them there wouldn’t have been anything but just another common book. For my own satisfaction I even think that lately I have reserved for myself this sort of silent, heartfelt laugh, same as Hawk-eye used to do.



Ahh, and the end of the novel…that was the last straw put on the fire. I have read the last Chapter twice. I just felt that maybe this repetition will diminish a bit the deep impression that was engraved on my mind. Of course, it didn’t bring anything in my aid and I was left to feel together with the participants in their very trying moment. But I was not alone, either. I was there with Hawk-eye and Chingachgook, myself grasping for their united hands and bowing my head to feel what is coming like a rapid mountain river. That was very beautiful.



Now that the novel is finished, I am to rejoice, hopefully, that there are other works by the same author that I could tackle. Still, I cannot help feeling that I would have been so delighted to read this tale in my early youth. There is a lot that could affect a reader at such a sensible age. The sense of adventure, the sense of qualities to be respected and even the sense that the history of that long past can be made so fresh again, of course for the purpose of knowledge, but with the remark that one has to have a very strong heart, calm mind and immovable composure, as for myself I couldn’t help struggling with pangs even more acute than any that my ‘fears’ had excited during the read. Against my will there is a melancholy feeling that still lingers over my mind, as all the images and events I have witnessed during the read remained deeply impressed on my memory. I guess I am not alone :)
Profile Image for Kate.
649 reviews102 followers
October 9, 2007
Plot: 1. Hack your way through the forest. 2. Get ambushed by Mohicans. 3. Kill a bunch of Mohicans. 4. Hack your way through more forest. 5. There are those damn Mohicans again. 6. Kill a bunch more Mohicans. 7. start over at #1.

Somebody explain to me how this ever got to be a classic.
Profile Image for Duane.
828 reviews404 followers
November 12, 2016
Cooper was a prolific writer with something like 40 novels to his credit, most written in the early 19th century. The Last of the Mohicans is his best known work and was popular in America as well as Europe. It's a frontier adventure story with a hint of romance to it, but Cooper's portrayal of Indians and women in the novel, considered shallow and inaccurate by todays readers, detract from it's image. My interest in the novel was from an historical viewpoint. It is based loosely on events that occurred during the French and Indian War, and provides an insight into the influence of the British and French occupation prior to the Revolutionary War. Cooper's writing style is somewhat laborious which has kept me from reading any of his other novels. I gave it 4 stars because of it's significance and position in the history of American Literature.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,936 reviews159 followers
June 13, 2018
This is another famous book that most people only seem to know through the movie version. While the movie was quite good-the book is truly a wonder. First a little bit of real history-during 1755, in the middle of the French-Indian Wars, Sir William Johnson decided to build a Fort in the New York province. The Fort (it's still there and worth visiting) was built to control the important inland waterway from New York City to Montreal, and occupied a key forward location on the frontier between New York and New France. If you happen to see the Fort you will notice that Fort William Henry is designed in an irregular square fortification with bastions on the corners, in a design that was intended to repel Indian attacks, but not necessarily withstand attack from an enemy armed with artillery (such as the French). The fort was surrounded on three sides by a dry moat, with the fourth side sloping down to the lake. The only access to the fort was by a bridge across the moat. It housed about 400-500 soldiers. In 1757 Col. George Monro with the 35th Foot (Regular) and the 60th (Royal American) Foot occupied the Fort. In August of 1757 French forces totaling some 8,000 soldiers, consisting of 3,000 regulars, 3,000 militia and nearly 2,000 Native Americans from various tribes laid siege to the Fort. Due to the inability (or some have deemed it "cowardice") of General Webb in not sending reinforcements, Col Monro had no other recourse than to surrender. Allowed the full honors of war (which means the British can keep their arms and unit colors; the weapons can not be loaded; ammunition must be left behind; they couldn't engage in hostilities with French forces for 18 months and an exchange of prisoners ) the British marched out of the Fort and were promptly massacred by the Indian forces of the French. This is something of a black mark for the French commander- Montcalm, who had responsibility for their safety according to the Laws of War. Sadly, in reality, "Laws" of war tend to be a ridiculous construct of civilians and tend to come into existence post-incident. But I digress- this book has this event and historical situation as its backdrop.

This is the story of the famous Anglo scout Hawkeye and his Mohican companions Chingachook and Uncas (father and son). As Col Monro's daughters run into Magua a Huron scout in the service of France. What follows is a heroic tale of Hawkeye and his companions racing to protect the women and their two British companions. I will not spoil the plot-it is worth reading. What makes this book shine isn't the plot but rather the background- America when it was a new nation and covered in unexplored, by the British, wilderness. This world does not exist any more save in these pages of Cooper's magnificent novel. Take a trip to an America of the past and revel in the descriptions of familiar locales that are nothing like what they were in the past. It is a truly wonderful book that tells an exciting story, yet the setting -the vast American wilderness and the Native Americans who people it are what make this a classic. Highly recommended to any one that appreciates good literature.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books580 followers
July 2, 2020
Note: I've just edited this review slightly to correct a chronological typo. When I read this book the first time, I was nine, not seven years old --I knew, when I wrote the first draft of this review, that I was in 4th grade the first time, so I don't know what I was thinking when I typed "seven!"

This novel, set in northern New York in 1757 and involving wilderness adventure and combat during the French and Indian War, was my first introduction to Cooper; the dates given here were for the second reading, but the first was back when I was nine years old. (Newly transferred to parochial school, I stumbled on it in what passed for a school library: two shelves of donated books.) I didn't mind the style (I was a weird kid), and it actually had a lot to appeal to a boy reader: Indians, gunfights and knife fights on land and water, chases, captures, escapes, and the appeal of some actual history thrown in. It left me with a solid liking for Cooper, and interest in reading more by him (though I've only scratched the surface there).

Like most early 19th-century authors, Cooper's popularity suffers with modern readers because of his diction; and the literary/critical set have been particularly hostile to him, starting with the Realist period with its root-and-branch condemnation of Romanticism and all its works. Mark Twain launched the attack with a hatchet job titled "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" (see below), and in the next generation, Charles Neider's verdict was snide and disparaging. The probability that Twain was motivated by professional jealousy as much as anything else, and the fact that Neider was a Washington Irving partisan who saw Cooper as dangerous competition for the highest laurels, don't seem to have discouraged today's critics from taking their assessments as the last word in Cooper criticism; indeed, they pile on the added condemnation that he held incorrect political views, which, for today's critical clerisy, is enough to damn a writer to eternal literary-critical hell. (As a high-school student, I recall watching Clifton Fadiman, the favorite 16mm talking head of English classes of that day, sneering at this book as a "dead classic" --which, having actually read it, confirmed my opinion of Fadiman's critical incompetence. :-) ) Interestingly, that wasn't the view of Cooper's contemporaries; he was not only very popular with readers in the U.S., but was one of the few pre-1865 American writers to have a literary reputation abroad. Balzac was a fan, going so far as to say of him that "had his characterizations been sharper, he would have been the master novelist of us all." He continued to earn high praise even from several serious literary pundits in Twain's day (and that worthy's flip assertion that none of these men had actually read Cooper is a fair sample of Twain's substitution of ridicule and sarcasm for reasonable discussion).

My own assessment of Cooper, and of this work in particular, isn't uncritical. There's no denying that his prose style, even by the standards of his day, is particularly dense, wordy and florid. This is especially notable in much of his dialogue. Even granting that in 1757 upper and middle-class speech tended to be more formal than ours, it's difficult to imagine anyone speaking in as orotund a manner as most of the characters here, especially in some of these contexts. (In fairness to Cooper, though, it's not true that none of his characters have speaking patterns that are distinct and reasonably reflect who they are; and David Gamut, the character with, IMO, the most ridiculously fulsome speech, is to a degree intended as comic relief.) His plotting doesn't hold up as well to a read by a 59-year-old as by a nine-year-old kid; some of the character's decisions are foolhardy, and there are plot points that strike me as improbable (though not the ones that Twain cites). While I don't necessarily mind authorial intrusion in the narrative, he uses it here a bit too much. And this edition could also have benefited from the inclusion of a map.

For all that, though, the positives for me outweighed the negatives. He delivers an adventure yarn that's pretty well-paced, absorbing and suspenseful. The characters are clearly-drawn, distinct, realistic, round, and complex, and evoke real reader reactions. Actual history is incorporated into the narrative in a seamless way. The portrayal of Indians and Indian culture, while not the treatment of them as blandly homogenized, gentle New Agers that modern monolithic "multiculturalism" would prescribe, is basically a realistic one that derived partly from first-hand contacts, and more knowledgeable than most white literary treatments would have been. While he sometimes refers to them as "savages," --and it's fair to note that they are people who, in real life, at times DID torture captives and kill noncombatants-- he doesn't demonize them or make them out to be stupid, unfeeling brutes. Like whites, individuals can be villains, like Magua, but other individuals can be very good; title character Uncas is portrayed as an admirable embodiment of masculine virtues, and the author actually contrasts Indian culture with Anglo-European culture to the disadvantage of the latter in several places.

Critics of Romantic school action-adventure fiction tend to deny that it has any serious messages (partly because they don't want to see messages they don't like, or recognize serious thought in a despised source), but they're present here nevertheless, and related to the above. Moral qualities such as courage, honor, loyalty, kindness and self-sacrifice, generosity, and love for family and friends are both praised and presented by favorable example, while the opposite qualities are disparaged. And there's a serious call to the reader to discard prejudiced ways of looking at people of other races/cultures. It's no accident that Uncas, an Indian depicted at a time when many people despised Indians, is the title character and real hero of the book, and that Cora, the strongest female character and Cooper's clear favorite, is also the one with some Negro descent on her mother's side. (In this respect, the racial attitudes here, IMO, show an advance in enlightenment on the part of the maturing Cooper that isn't evident in earlier works like The Spy and The Pioneers, the two other Cooper novels I've read.) There's even a hint that for Cooper, the idea of interracial romance isn't a complete taboo, though the presentation is subtle. True, Hawkeye, who obviously carries some emotional baggage from being disparaged by other whites for his Indian associations, stresses his un-crossed bloodlines with no Indian "taint," and won't consider the idea of intermarriage (though his bond with his Indian friends is subversive of his culturally-conditioned racism). But to automatically assume, as some readers do, that Hawkeye must always speak for Cooper is, I think, a mistake. He is who he is, warts and all, and that includes being opinionated and fallible (it's not likely, for instance, that his disdain for books and literacy was shared by an author who was a professional writer!). Cooper was a strong Christian, and this book has several naturally-integrated references to religious faith and prayer, as well as a couple of short discussions of religious belief. The type of Christian belief Cooper finds congenial comes across as one that's not doctrinally dogmatic and narrow (as opposed to Gamut's Calvinism), and not judgmental in consigning others to hellfire and damnation. (When Hawkeye refuses to translate Colonel Munro's statement, "Tell them, that the Being we all worship, under different names, will be mindful of their charity; and that the time shall not be distant when we may assemble around his throne without distinction of sex, rank, or color," this reader perceived Munro, not Hawkeye, as speaking for the author!)

A major factor in my rating was the ending. At the same time, the last chapter is one of the most emotionally rich, evocative passages in American letters; on re-reading it, I raised my rating by a star.

Since Twain based most of his attacks on Cooper on The Deerslayer (which I want to read eventually), it seems better to respond to his essay in detail whenever I review that book. But where he makes general or specific criticisms that apply to this book, it's appropriate to mention those here. First, as to Cooper overusing the device of a twig breaking and alerting someone to movement, on this reading I looked particularly for that. It occurs once, in a 423-page book. Second, Twain does NOT establish that it's impossible, in a fog, to backtrack the trail of a spent cannonball that, by his own admission, would skip and roll over damp ground, leaving marks; he establishes that it would be quite difficult --in other words, the sort of thing heroes or heroines in action fiction often do, where less capable characters wouldn't be able to. And third, if it's an iron-clad law of nature that every mark in the bottom of a running stream is more or less instantly totally erased by the current, we're at a loss to account for fossilized impressions of such marks that endured until they turned to rock. In practice, it makes a great deal of difference how deep the mark is, how mallable the bottom is, how fast the current is moving, and how much time elapsed since the mark was made. Cooper isn't the one being unobservant on that point.

Reading this book was a cool trip down memory lane; it was amazing how much detail, and often how much exact wording, I remembered! It's definitely re-whetted my appetite to read more of his work (one of these years!). Of course, there are a lot of physical to-read piles in my office to be hacked through, or at least reduced, first....
Profile Image for Megan.
196 reviews87 followers
December 4, 2013
“Mislike me not, for my complexion, the sad owed livery of the burnished sun.” When you first open Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper this is one of the first things you read. This quote from Shakespeare seems to state that the book will not show the racist tendencies of the time, but display the different races in equal light. While writing a historical fiction, being a completely anti-racist novel is not possible but Cooper seems to state with his head note that the color of skin does not matter. Despite the surface level image of a heroic narrative of Native Americans, Cooper betrays an underline racist agenda, much like the opinions of his own protagonists, which comes through in relationship tension and through the inversion of the native tribes, which played into the racist propaganda of the times increasing tension.

Last of the Mohicans is part of a series which tells the adventures of Hawkeye as the main protagonist. Hawkeye is a white male, who has in a sense, disowned his race and ancestors and lives in the wild with the Mohicans. Yet while Hawkeye seems to see his race in such a bad light to live out in the wild, he takes extreme pride in being a white male. “ “Iroquois, daren’t deny that I am genuine white,” the scout replied, surveying, with secret satisfaction, the faded color of his bony and sinewy hand” (23).* While his best friends are Native Americans, Hawkeye still acts as if he is above them, more evolved, because he is a white man. During racial arguments, Hawkeye always draws attention to his race, demonstrating that it is of such great importance to his personal identity and something of which others must be made aware of. Even though he has left the settled life of a white man he has not ultimately left behind the white man’s philosophy on Native Americans and those who are mixed race. “I am not a prejudiced man…” (23). This is always Hawkeye’s way to start a conversation. It is a method he uses to smooth over the conversation right before be goes into how he is genuine white and above them. No one ever comments on this or corrects Hawkeye of his ways showing that it is not something that he should be ashamed of or in any way wrong. “But neither the Mohicans, nor I, who am a white man without a cross, can explain the cry we heard” (59). I find it interesting that instead of saying we, Hawkeye uses the Mohicans and I. Again, “No Indian myself, but a man without a cross” (126). He makes a point to separate himself from them. He is a white man, not a Native American. Also he points out that not only is he white, but he is without a cross. Here I think it can be implied that it means that he is pure white, his bloodline has not been crossed with any other race. He uses this as a status of power, inserting himself carefully above the Native Americans and those of mixed race. Is this how Cooper then sees the hierarchy of people, that those with a pure white bloodline are above the rest? That they are better than everyone else? I believe in a way this is how Cooper feels, if not why would he write a whole series on Hawkeye, allowing him to spew his propaganda about how whites are above all the rest. It is then interesting to look at how Cooper displays characters that aren’t pure white.

Cora the heroin of the story is actually of mixed race decadency, her father is white, and her mother was from the Caribbean. “You scorn to mingle the blood of the Heywards with one so degraded-lovely and virtuous though she be?” (161). When Heyward goes to Colonel Munro to ask one of his daughters hand in marriage Munro is shocked and calls Heyward racist for picking his daughter with fair skin instead of his eldest darker skinned daughter. Heyward’s embarrassment and shock come through but he realizes in a way that is why he doesn’t desire Cora, because of how he was raised to look down on those of mixed race. Yet Cora is ultimately the center of desire for two Native Americans, Uncas and Magua. Near the end of the book I would have guessed that the novel would end happily with Cora and Uncas remaining together despite the fact that Uncas is a Native American and Cora of mixed decadency. Ultimately, we see the collapse of every character in the love triangle however, love is not lost! Alice and Heyward having both survived the final battle are deeply in love. Their relationship is allowed to flourish and grow as they both take their experiences back to civilization, leaving the wild, savage forest behind. Cooper in allowing the relationship of Alice and Heyward to thrive while that of Uncas and Cora is doomed reveals his thoughts on mixed race relationships. Mixed race relationships or even that between a civilized person and a savage person are doomed to fail. They can’t happen or he may even mean to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to occur. Cooper even goes as far to say that even in heaven the lovers will not be together:
“Say to these kind and gentle females, that a heartbroken and failing man returns them his thanks. Tell him, that the Being we all worship, under different names, will be mindful of their charity; and that the time shall not be distant when we may assemble around his throne without distinction of sex, or rank, or color.” The scout listened to the tremulous voice… “To tell them this,” he said, “would be to tell them that the snows come not in winter, or the sun shines fiercest when the trees are stripped of their leaves.” (360-61)
From Hawkeye’s point of view, even in heaven there is apartheid, which means there is no way that the lovers will ever be happy together in heaven or on earth. This again is where the racism of Cooper’s time comes seeping through the pages of the novel. Mixed race relationships were greatly frowned upon, even considered illegal in that time.

Copper while trying to display the book as anti-racist by making Uncas and Cora, both who aren’t white, his heroes, he underneath the main plot creates this racism that mirrors that of the 1820s. “And I tell you that he who is born a Mingo will die a Mingo” (31). Only a couple of chapters into the book and Cooper already shows his true colors about how he feels about the Native Americans. There is no redemption for them, they cannot move up the totem pole of class structure, they are born low-class Native Americans and will die that way. Cooper actually inverts the native tribes in the book from that in history. During the French and Indian War, the Mohicans was actually paired with the French, not the British, and the Iroquois were paired with the British. In historical context the Mohicans were actually the villains and the Iroquois the heroes but that is not the case in the book. So why did Cooper have this role reversal? While it may seem like an innocent difference it actually has very racial implications. When Cooper’s book was published was the time of Native American removal. During this time, the tribe that the country was trying to move was mainly the Iroquois tribe. Here is where we see the propaganda that Cooper displayed. He makes the Iroquois in the book the villain, which in turn causes people to be less sympathetic of their cause and makes people more likely to support the Native American removal.
“The pale-faces are the masters of the earth, and the time of the redmen has not yet come again. My day has been too long. In the morning I saw the sons of Unamis happy and strong; and yet, before the night has come, have I lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans” (363-64).
In the end the Native Americans left decide that it is time to move on, it is the white man’s turn to thrive. This is the solution Cooper paints to the Native American removal and shows his support to the cause. They should want to leave. They no longer have a key influence to the making of the world. The Native American tribes should just move on and do what the white man says for they no longer have a place in history.

“Mislike me not for my complexion.” A bold statement that Cooper inserts on the front pages of the book yet tears apart as the reader dives deeper into the novel. The head note can be compared to Hawkeye stating, “I am not a prejudice man…” right before he says something racist. This is Cooper’s way to smooth over the racism that he displays in his novel. With Hawkeye as his main character in this series he can be thought of as having Cooper’s own thoughts on race, interracial relationships, and the Native American removal. Cooper allows the racism of the current time seep through as propaganda in the book and destroying any anti-racist plot that he tried to display in his novel.

This review is actually a paper I am writing for class and in the editing stages :)

UPDATE This was a paper for class and I got the grade back today and received a 3.8, one of the higher grades in the class!
10 reviews
July 4, 2007
Man alive, I hated that book. Again, I procrastinated and tried to jam the whole book into one weekend, since I had an oral book review due on Monday for history or social studies or something. God, why can't I even remember the name of the class? My sister will know. It was in high school, junior year, and the teacher - who later became our mayor wtf! - was totally hot. Balding, tan, charismatic, awesome. Every summer, he'd mow his yard. Shirtless. Good god, y'all. And he had a daughter in my grade, so he was *totally* in the Old Enough To Be Your Dad zone, which was creepy and yet completely awesome when you're 16 or 17 and crushing like crazy on him, which half of everybody was.

So anyway! Read this book as one of the required oral book reviews in his class, which was a before-or-after class thing, one-on-one, which made me want to crawl into a hole and die from nerves, since it was him. Totally great.

None of this made the book any good. The movie was better. Go watch the movie. The book would spend like 25 pages on describing crap like what every freakin' stone and pebble looked like while going down a path omg zzzzzzzzzz.

In conclusion: Book report with hot teacher which makes you think of that Lolita-y song by The Police? Awesome. Picking this book for it? Not so much.
Profile Image for Supratim.
233 reviews443 followers
January 2, 2019
A long time ago I had chanced upon the movie adaptation of this novel on TV. I could not watch it then as I had to do something. But, the name stuck in my mind for some reason. Later I learnt that the movie was based on a book and added it to my TBR.

The Last of the Mohicans is the second book in The Leatherstocking Tales Series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

The story is set in the backdrop of the wars between the British and the French colonialists in North America during the 1700s. This is a typical adventure story wherein brave honorable men fight the evil villains to protect the damsels-in-distress.

The hero of the story is Natty Bumppo aka Hawkeye, a white woodsman raised by the Native Americans. Aided by his two loyal Mohican friends, the last of their tribe, Hawkeye would try to protect two British sisters and their companions from Magua and his Huron warriors.

I was expecting a great read, but the book somehow did not live up to my expectations. I am not saying the book was bad; parts of it were really great. It depicted an America which is so different from the imageries that are usually associated with it. The America in the novel is the old America with pristine forests and the ancient way of life, but all these was starting to vanish due to the advancement of “civilization”. Some of the action was also fine.

The unnecessary detailed descriptions impacted my reading experience. I can understand the melodrama and the verbose prose, as well as the stereotyping of the Native Americans and women – the book was written in the 1800s after all. But, one aspect of the story was very difficult to digest – that the Hurons would give so much leeway to their captives and trust a white from the enemy side. Some long dialogues were also in French, which I had to skip totally. A few characters were very tiresome.

Despite my criticism, I might still give the first book in the series a chance. Readers who enjoy historical fiction might want to give this book a try.

Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 40 books218 followers
January 18, 2009
I can still remember the edition of this that---somehow---I had in my room as a child. It was a hardback, dense type, the occasional woodcut, thin pages, tightly bound, and it smelled like it had been mouldering under somebody's bed since Martin Van Buren ass-ended to the presidency. Back then I couldn't for the life of me get past the first chapter. The syntax was so knotty (ie. Latinate) that I might have compared it to autoerotic asphyxiation if I'd known such a thing existed (autoeroticism, that is--not asphyxiation). In fact, I hope it doesn't expose my secret propensity for lace panties and Angora sweaters to say that at ten I much preferred Little Women. Yes, I loved Cooper's title bc I didn't know what the hell it meant, and I debated the pretension one might be susceptible to if made to tote the name 'Fenimore' through life. Decades later I can say that life for me boils down to a choice: some books you love because they are you writ in picas, and others you teach. This one falls into the later category.

Personal bullshit aside, there's so much here that's so historically important that LaMo as well call it in my neighborhood call it by necessity becomes worthy of reading time. For starters, landscape. The book is capacious, to use one of Cooper's marble-mouthed words. It conveys the scopic magnitude of the New World. The prowess of setting is particularly important when you realize that by the 1820s---a mere fifty years after the country's founding---nature was already a touchstone of nostalgia and Cooper was depicting us as having milked dry the natural resources of this fresh green breast of the new world. Second, the Native Americans. You don't read Cooper for the verysmellytude of ethnicity. Go see Dances with Wolves for that. (Better yet A Man Called Horse). But you do see in the ridiculously wooden me-likum-you-pale-face cigar-store depiction of Chingachgook and Uncas a sincere desire to elevate the NA warrior, Greek epic style, into a symbol of Lost America---again, poignant given that the Trail of Tears was taking place in this same era. Cooper thus helps make the Vanishing Indian a personfication of American guilt, a spokesman for the jeremiad. Finally, chicks, man: in Cora and Alice, you have here the prototypes for the Dark Lady and Light Lady that will play their sista act out in American fiction all the way through Pierre and The Blithedale Romance on up to every bad Sarah Jessica Parker/Rachel McAdams romantic purported comedy not starring Matthew McConaughey. Why divide feminity into innocent blondes and dirty brunettes? To quote the title of my least favorite Pink CD, must be Mizzacegenation, the anxiety that ravenheads have to be born out of those dalliances on the dark side that even British generals are prone to when the colored girls go do-da-do, doo, doo, dootey-dootey-doo, doo, doo, doo, etc. It's a literary obligation in the 19th century bc Cooper and his peers knew, deep down, that nobody short of Edgar or Johnny Winter was truly white enough.

Yes, at some point long about Book II, the formula of kidnap/rescue/ bring-a-tomahawk-to-a-gunfight gets tedious. And you are likely to throw the book across the room at the more silly assertions of Natty Bumppo and Chingy's ability to blend with the animals. The scene in which the latter, the father of the Mohicans' last, dresses up as a beaver (!!!!!!!!) to get the scoop on the alien tribe's war plans has to be the single hardest scene in American literature to teach without regressing to an eight year-old. It absolutely kills the seriousness of the book---at least until the glorious last chapter, when suddenly Cooper's marvelous ability to lament takes over, and you read a threnody for fallen America that ranks up there with the final paragraph of Gatsby.

So, enjoy, but be prepared to chew through the fat of preposterousness to the gristle of import. None of Cooper's other books save The Pioneers can really touch this one in terms of melancholy. And the melancholy of loss is what makes it great.
Profile Image for Edward.
361 reviews909 followers
May 16, 2020
Now, Last of the Mohicans was a book I was SO excited to read. I love love love the Michael Mann film with Daniel Day-Lewis and thought if the book is half as good as the film then it will still be a great read.

Let me say this now, it was not half as good. Not even a tenth as good. It was a slog and not an enjoyable one.

“History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness.”

The Last of the Mohicans was written by James Fenimore Cooper in 1826, and is set in 1757 during the French-Indian wars. It is a fascinating time period in history and I felt like Cooper would have had a unique insight into this world as he was a part of it.

Hawkeye is a white man travelling with Mohican companions, Chingachgook and his son Uncas - who is ‘the last of the Mohicans’. Hawkeye as a character is tedious and irritating in many ways, not to mention that he mentions almost in every part of speech that he has ‘the blood of white men’ in his veins. He also gives Uncas a pretty hard time, even when the young Mohican actually saves the companies lives.

“Is it justice to make evil, and then punish for it?”

I have read a fair few books with Native American cultures and tribes in now, and nowhere I felt the depiction and portrayal of them was anywhere near as demeaning as it is in The Last of the Mohicans. I really disliked the portrayal of Chingachgook and Uncas. They had minimal dialogue, most of which was taken over by Hawkeye, and they were just following his orders for the whole of the book. I enjoyed some parts with Magua - our antagonist and all round bad guy - his dialogue and motivations were interesting, however he did manage to wriggle out of every life threatening situation which was frustrating.

Nearly all of these characters have about 32 different names (okay maybe more like 2/3), and Cooper will use their multiple names in the same passage just to confuse the reader even more.

“Tis a strange calling!’ muttered Hawkeye, with an inward laugh, ‘to go through life, like a catbird, mocking all the ups and downs that may happen to come out of other men’s throats.”

If you’ve seen the film then the plot is vaguely similar, with some differences here and there. The book plot felt weaker to me, some parts unbelievable and demeaning to the native cultures and very very long-winded. Cooper evidently has an affinity with describing the endless rocks and twigs that the characters tread past. It is very jarring and distracts the reader from some of the actually good parts.

The language is at times very eloquent and intriguing, other times bulky and wordy but I didn’t mind that so much. Some dialogue was interesting and fun, some parts pretty epic, others mind numbingly-boring. The Last of the Mohicans covers a lot.

“I too can play the madman, the fool, the hero; in short, any or everything to rescue her I love.”

There was a few action sequences in the book that were written well - when they weren’t strewn with jarring dialogue. The fights were intense and brutal and the standout of the book for me.

1.5/5 - I'm disappointed and sad I didn’t enjoy this, as many reviews say it is a masterpiece. However, I feel it was strewn with too much nonsensical description, a demeaning depiction of native Americans and not one character who was able to carry the book. There was some lovely artwork in the version I read though, so there’s that.
Profile Image for Jason.
114 reviews584 followers
November 27, 2012
I really wanted to enjoy this book.

You ever do that? Pick up a book and assume it begins with 3 stars, hoping to move skyward.

I was looking forward to the crisp narrative of Colonial Realism, something like a Ben Franklin writing about mercantilism.

My college roommate loved the Leatherstocking Tales, and I was rewarded following his recommendations before, so I put them on the shelf to read 20 years later.

317 pages.

I looked at my mom over Thanksgiving with such an expression that she asked “what?” I told her halfway through the book, ‘it sucks.’

But I finish books, goshdarn. Even 1-star books. And in those last pages I captured my favorite sentence in the book:

”Here and there a bird was heard fluttering among the branches of the beeches, and occasionally a squirrel dropped a nut, drawing the startled looks of the party for a moment to the place; but the instant the casual interruption ceased, the passing air was heard murmuring above their heads, along that verdant and undulating surface of forest which spread itself unbroken, unless by stream or lake, over such a vast region of country.” (p. 305)

So at least there’s that.

Or my second most favorite sentence:

”The party was, however, scarcely uncovered before a volley from a dozen rifles was heard in their rear; and a Delaware, leaping high into the air like a wounded deer, fell at his whole length perfectly dead.” (p. 308)

I didn’t understand who the characters were throughout the entire book. There was no description to sink your teeth into. Maybe I should have started with the first of five Leatherstocking Tales instead of book 4. But I don’t think it would have mattered.

Some Indian tribes helped the French; others helped the English; they all fought each other. 2 young women were captured, and a chase materialized. There.

J. Fenimore Cooper is lauded as our first great American novelist. In that spirit, we are taught in middle school to revere his writing. Which is a mistake. He was merely the first to popularize Indian-speak, paleface.

I’m not the only one. Look how Mark Twain excoriates and rips apart Cooper’s writing here. Mr Twain, that’s exactly how I feel about it.

Cloying romanticism.

Unnecessary qualifiers.

Blind alleys. Sentences that could be removed—should be removed—to make a better flow.

I like Henry James and Wilkie Collins and Theodore Drieser. They have long sentences too, but no dead wood.

I also like that very few of my friends have read this book so that I can 1) not be called-to-the-carpet and 2) hopefully save you from this novel.

Just know when he lived, what he wrote, and spend more time reading the Federalist Papers.

I’m in a bad mood. Probably because of this book. The review stands, take it or leave it.
Profile Image for Leo ..
Author 3 books378 followers
December 21, 2017
This book gets five stars from me. The mysteries of the Americas and the Invasion of European settlers. These lands have been raped and scorched by Europe. The Spanish were first; allegedly, on behest of the Vatican of course. Anyhow I think the great Daniel Day Lewis won a Bafta for a reason in the movie adaption of The Last Of The Mohicans. It was a fantastic story. 👍🐯
Profile Image for Tim.
Author 70 books2,653 followers
October 6, 2009
I first read this book when I was a boy, and decided to re-read it to see how it held up. The answer: very well.

In fact, I'd say that this book is a "must-read" for any American. Despite the fact that it's in no-way an accurate depiction of native American culture, it's a great reminder of what our landscape was like when our country was young. (If you're from California, Two Years Before the Mast performs a similar function.) Written in 1826, it was already 75 years past the events depicted in the story, but upstate New York was still in places very wild. Reading this book, I had a keen sense of what America was once like to the Europeans who were working so hard to turn the wilderness into the kind of world with which they were familiar.

Also fascinating is the book's struggle with racism. Hawkeye keeps referring to himself as being "without a cross." I thought he was referring to some kind of non-Christian deism until late in the book, when I realized it was his way of saying he was of "pure" white blood, despite living with and like the Indians. In this way, the book reminded me a bit of Trollope's Can You Forgive Her, a book that still has the sensibilities of its time, but is struggling to transcend them. As Trollope could see that there was a way of thinking about the rights of women that he couldn't quite support, Cooper sees that there is something special in the ways of the native American, even as he condescends to it.

Yes, the characters are cartoons (apart from Hawkeye, who has a strong "through line"), the plot is sentimental, and the view of native American culture is stereotypical, but there's still a lot here. After all, the point of a book like this isn't its realism, but its ability to mirror the mindset of a time, as experienced by the author and his readers. There is enormous value in a chronicle like this precisely because it shows the prejudices and attitudes and knowledge of its day.

The writing is far better than in The Deerslayer, which I also re-read recently, even though the Deerslayer was written 25 years later (though the events in it take place earlier.) In places, the writing is quite lovely. It's a paean to the glories of early America.

This is also a great, though understated, love story, a story of a love that cannot be accepted by white society.

But most of all, this book is a reminder of the tragedy of America's settlement, that in building our "new world", we destroyed the old world we came to. The image of Chingachgook, last of his tribe, is poignant and powerful. Every American should remember, feel sorrow, and responsibility to make something good to replace what we destroyed.

Profile Image for Carol Storm.
Author 28 books183 followers
May 15, 2023
It's the American IVANHOE!

It's easy to laugh at LAST OF THE MOHICANS if you've been raised on books like ROUGHING IT or HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, or even LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. Modern readers expect brutal realism, graphic violence, natural-sounding dialogue, and raw, authentic emotions in novels about the frontier.

But what makes LAST OF THE MOHICANS interesting is when you grasp what James Fenimore Cooper was actually trying to do. He wasn't trying to capture what life on the 18th century frontier was really like. He was trying to write a novel that could compete with what everyone thought of as the great literature of the day -- the historical romances of Sir Walter Scott. Judged on those terms, LAST OF THE MOHICANS isn't really that bad.

Just like IVANHOE, LAST OF THE MOHICANS takes two beautiful, refined young ladies and puts them into every kind of jeopardy and terror against a backdrop of wars and massacres. Fair, gentle Alice and brave, dark, passionate Cora are obviously based on Rowena and Rebecca, respectively. Cooper heightens the drama by making them sisters, and threatening them both with equal danger.

Just like IVANHOE, LAST OF THE MOHICANS uses real historical conflicts as a background to drama. Instead of the conflict between Normans and Saxons -- which is happily resolved by creation of a new English national identity -- Cooper focuses on the conflict between the Native Americans and the encroaching settlers. This does not end happily. But what's interesting is that Cooper (much more than more celebrated American icons like Mark Twain) actually feels the tragedy and the loss. The "villain" in this novel, Magua, is conceived as a tragic hero, like Shylock in Shakespeare's THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. Using Shakespeare as an inspiration for his more menacing characters is a trick that Cooper learned from Sir Walter Scott. So is using personal tragedy as a symbol for larger historical trends.

When you read this book, it's not hard to guess that the dark-eyed, racially mixed Cora is destined for a tragic fate, while bland, blue-eyed Alice is guaranteed a happy ever after. But what stays with you long after the book is over is the haunting sense that Cooper isn't really happy about the ending he had to write.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,709 reviews388 followers
November 26, 2015
Despite the often dense and twirly prose, I enjoyed this novel immensely! It helped that I read this out of genuine interest, not forced by educators, nor pushed down my throat by anyone, which bode well for my enjoyment of the story for the story's sake. And it was good!

At first, I was tempted to review this with a comparison to the famous 1992 film inspired by this book, which was my introduction to the story, but it'd be a long breakdown of what the film got wrong and why (the changes to Duncan Heyward and the Cora/Uncas romance are the biggest sins of the adaptation...!), which defeats the purpose of a book review. Suffice to say that I'm glad it's very different. Personally, I like the original story much more, as the details are richer, despite the writing. There were gratifying surprises as well, particularly how subtle the feelings between the Mohican and the British are. Other surprises weren't as much, like Nathaniel, whom I'd expected to be different, and younger.

Oh, and that my copy had illustrations by N. C. Wyeth, one of my favourite artists, was wonderful! A very nice accompaniment.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,176 followers
July 12, 2021
There is an awful lot one can say about The Last of the Mohicans, and most of it is not good. Cooper was among the first major American literary stars, a contemporary of Washington Irving. And he embraced his heritage, using both the history and geography of his home as the setting for his adventurous romances. Even so, he expected most of his readers to be Europeans, as is made obvious by the numerous footnotes explaining American flora, fauna, slang, and history to his overseas readers. These were actually among the most enjoyable parts of the novel.

For me, the dominant feature of this book was the contrast between the fast-moving plot and the stilted style. Few readers nowadayss will enjoy Cooper’s English. He writes in a kind of Augustan prose. Here is a taste:
Alice listened with breathless interest; and though the young man touched lightly on the sorrows of the stricken father, taking care, however, not to wound the self-love of his auditor, the tears ran as freely down the cheeks of the daughter as though she had never wept before. The soothing tenderness of Duncan, however, soon quieted the first burst of her emotions, and she then heard him to the close with undivided attention, if not with composure.

I typically enjoy the ornate prose of former ages. But I find very little to praise in the above passage. The staid and mannered style is just so discordant with the subject-matter—in this case, a kidnapped woman experiencing traumatic emotion. It is abstract, awkward, and at times not even sensible: What does it mean to cry as if you have never cried before?

Standing in contrast to this twee narrative voice is the plot, which is a genuine rip-roaring adventure. Indeed, I cannot think of any other 19th century novel with as much action, bloodshed, and suspense in it. Very little effort would be needed to transpose the story into a modern-day action movie (as, of course, has already been done). The story has all of the hallmarks of a summer blockbuster: an unflappable male protagonist, a damsel in distress (two, actually), a hapless character playing comedic relief, and a dastardly villain motivated by pure vengeance. If the prose was even halfway decent, it would be easy to imagine this book on a bestseller list.

Cooper’s treatment of Native American cultures stands out as noteworthy. By any standard there is a lot of racism and cultural chauvinism in this book. However, I believe that, in Cooper’s own day, The Last of the Mohicans was significantly more tolerant than most. Some native tribes, it is true, are depicted as little more than barbarous evildoers; while others (the Mohicans, notably) are shown to be quite admirable, if still not entirely human in Cooper’s eyes.

This ambivalence is expressed in the character of Hawkeye, a white scout who has chosen to live amongst his Mohican allies. While often seeming to prefer native ways to his own European culture, he also does not let a single opportunity pass by to mention that he is white. I mean this literally: he must mention his whitenesss 200 times in the book. It is actually quite comical, when it is not infuriating.

The artistic descendants of this book are the infinite stories, shows, and movies of frontier life. Hawkeye, in particular, has lived on in a hundred cowboys, gunslingers, and other frontiersman “heroes.” Cooper is undoubtedly important, then, for creating an archetype in American culture—though, for my part, this is a dubious legacy. In any case, I would not recommend reading this for its historical value alone. It will only be enjoyable if, like me, you can find the comedy in an adventure story being narrated as if it were The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Profile Image for Jason Reeser.
Author 8 books41 followers
December 30, 2011
I read this in seventh grade (many years ago) and it was the first full length 'classic' novel I had ever read. I just fell in love with this kind of writing. I have seen so many complaints about Cooper, but this lead me to start reading Dickens and many others Victorian writers.
LOTM is great adventure stuff. And it has the most fantastic hero long before the world had ever heard of James Bond. Hawkeye (a.k.a Leatherstocking, The Pathfinder, The Deerslayer, etc.) is the smoothest, coolest, best shooting, wisest, funniest, and toughest hero I can ever remember. I just loved him. In fact, knowing that he finally dies in the book The Prarie, I still won't read that book. I suppose I'll have to wait until the winter of my life to read that. I just hate to see him get so old and die.
One last comment. The only character to 'outcool' Hawkeye is his companion, Chingachgook. There is an added mysteriousness to him that makes him the ultimate special forces fighter, and this was long before ninjas became the rage.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Данило Судин.
492 reviews176 followers
January 24, 2022
Перечитування улюблених романів дитинства - справа химерна. Постійно боїшся, що твір розчарує. З іншого боку, я взявся за Купера, бо... В ХІХ ст. він же ж писав не для дітей, але для дорослих. А тому те, що ми читаємо його в шкільному віці... Чи це не спрощення творів Купера?
З таким настроєм я вже перечитав Піонерів. А тепер прийшла черга й Останнього з могікан. Все тому, що я вирішив читати не в хронологічному порядку, а в порядку написання. І, скажу я щиро, цей метод працює. Але спершу про сам роман.

Купер - жахливий романіст. В Піонерах було дві проблеми: структурна та сюжетна. Структурно Купер пише дуже "перекошений" роман: приблизно 40-45% тексту займає опис одного (!) вечора, а далі події відбуваються протягом десяти (!) місяців (!!!). Сюжетно в Піонерах все ще гірше. Один з героїв, Олівер, має таємницю, про яку він нікому не розкаже, поки не настане час. Наприкінці з'ясовується, що цією таємницею є його дід. Він є співвласником земель, якими зараз володіє суддя Темпл, але через те, що 1776 року дід не став на бік США, а залишився вірним Короні, він втратив ці землі. І от тепер злиденний дід Олівера живе в хижі Натті Бампо. А Олівер приїхав... Помститися? Вернути майно? Наче останнє, але чого він чекає? Купер так і не каже, бо Олівер прочекав 10 місяців, а далі... А далі діда "викриває" Натті через свою нелюбов до законів. Тобто - невеликою підміною - Купер відволікає нас від думки, що в Олівера не було плану, а тому роман просто тягнувся... в нікуди. Купер сам розуміє, що цього мало. А тому додає "любовний трикутник", але і він млявий. Олівер наче має обирати між донькою судді Темпла та донькою священика. Але він любить доньку судді. Втім, донька священика любить його! Але це ніяк не вплине сюжет. Любить, та й любить. Почуттів не виявляє, не ревнує. Те саме з п��рсонажами. Наприклад, Ремаркабль, управителька дому судді Темпла. З появою його доньки вона розуміє, що її "владі" прийшов кінець. Вона відчуває обурення та образу на доньку судді, хоче їй пакостити і.... нічого з цього не робить. Просто змиряється зі своєю долею. То навіщо було описувати її обурення та злість? І так далі, і тому подібне. Купер реально не вміє писати сюжет.

Так от, ці ж проблеми є і в Останньому з могікан. Структурно вже все не так погано: немає "перекосів" між частинами роману. Але далі проблеми із сюжетом. Він доволі банальний і повторюваний. Дві сестри - Кора та Еліс - вирушають до свого батька полковника Мунро (в цьому перекладі - Манро). Їх супроводжує офіцер Дункан Гейворд (в цьому перекладі - Данкен). За провідника вони беруть індіанця Магуа. І він їх веде в пастку. Але, на щастя, на дорозі їм трапляються Натті, Чингачгук та його син Ункас (в цьому перекладі - Анкес). І ті їх намагаються врятувати. Але сестри з Дунканом потрапляють в полон. Втім, скоро їх з нього визволяють троє "лісовиків". Після чого приводять у форт до батька. Щастя, радість - поки форт не капітулює. Англійці відступають, Кору та Еліс знову захоплюють індіанці, "лісовики" та Дункан з Мунро вирушають в погоню. Вони рятують обох сестер. Але Магуа таки забирає до себе Еліс. Після чого лісовики та Дункан вирушають на порятунок Еліс. І далі фінал.

Структура до болю повторювана. Тому десь після половини роману стає нуднувато читати. А ще й відсутні другорядні персонажі, які були окрасою Піонерів. Тут їм майже немає. А ті, що є, з'являються з нізвідки і йдуть в нікуди. Та ще й Кора та Еліс "втрачають" голос з другої половини роману, бо їхні персонажі нічого не говорять. Навіть, коли мали б. Так само і Мунро. Він "теліпається" за лісовиками з Дунканом як п'яте колесо до воза. Навіщо вони його тягнуть? Чому британський офіцер взагалі покидає службу?

І додається третя проблема: характери. Купер зовсім не вміє писати персонажів, які змінюються. Натті в Піонерах та Натті в Останньому з могікан - один і той же персонаж. Дослівно. Хоча між романами наче проходить 35 років, Натті поводиться однаково: він всюди старий буркотун. Тобто він в 30 років нагадує себе в 70. Ні, не нагадує. Він є ідентичним чоловіком. На щастя, Чингачгук взагалі мало говорить, а потім відсиджується в норі бобра (так, це звучить так само по-ідіотськи, але в романі відбувається саме це). А тому ми не маємо змоги порівняти його з Джоном Могіканином в Піонерах. Але, боюся, в Купера вийшло б те саме. Він просто не вміє описувати зміни людей.

І попри ці негативні риси, Останній з могікан чудовий роман! (Сподіваюся, ви дочитали до цього місця, і я не зробив наклепу на Купера.)
Ближче до фіналу це стає зрозумілим. І тоді ж всі неточності, хиби, нелогічності стають на свої місця.
Бо Купер не є видатним письменником, але і не є посередністю. Він не є видатним, бо він не має сил повстати проти канонів / вимог, які були в його час до романів. Він не є посередністю, бо він - насправді! - хоче ці канони змінити.

Тому Купер наче каже: "Хочете романтичний роман, де damsel in distress, себто панночка в біді? Буде вам! Навіть дві панночки!" І так, Кора та Еліс наче подвійне еспрессо: давайте додамо кліше, подвоїмо його. Любовний "трикутник" чи просто "романс"? Буде вам і це, але не так, як ви сподіваєтеся.
Втім, "ключем" є фінал! Ункас виявляється спадковим вождем делаварів. (Облишимо в спокої питання, чи були спадкові вожді �� корінного населення Америки). Плем'я делаварів, дізнавшись про його походження, наче фенікс з попелу, відроджується: виходить зі стану апатії, пригадує про свою гідність. Вони воїни, чорт забирай!
- О! - готові вигукнути ми. - Це ж такий знайомий троп: повернення короля. Це як "Володар перстнів", тільки в Північній Америці, а замість Ґондору делавари. Але суть та сама. Артуріана з напівголими дикунами. "А ось і ні!" - демонічно регоче Купер. Ункас вмирає в першому ж бою, плем'я делаварів стрімко западає в пітьму історії. Фінал. Завіса. Екскалібур з каменю не добуто. Темні віки огортають людство. Морок. Холод. Забуття.

Саме цієї миті стає зрозуміло: Купер свідомо бере тропи / кліше, поширені в його час, і "висміює" їх. Чи обертає навспак. Панночка в біді? Тримайте дві. Від цього додається лише комічності. Повернення короля? А нема його, поразка і смерть обранця богів.

Але після цього постає питання: навіщо це йому? І ось тут криється величезна заслуга Купера. Останній з могікан - роман про колоніалізм! Насправді протягом всього роману Купер критикує білих, їхню поведінку в Америці, їхнє ставлення до індіанців.

Наприклад, початок роману. Найвміліший розвідник англійців - Натті Бампо, звісно ж - просто тиняється лісами. Ясна річ, що по сюжету він в ролі "рояля в кущах": йому треба зустріти двох панночок в біді. Це дійсно якось неприродньо. Але при цьому Натті та Чингачгук обговорюють колоніалізм! Зокрема, Чингачгук нарікає на білих: вони відбирають в індіанців землі - силою зброї, яка в білих краща, а також споюючи їх. Натті намагається виправдатися, але виходить кепсько. Протягом доволі химерної мандрівки до форту Мунро Купер постійно показує, що гурони - якби їх Натті не називав негідниками - є благородними. В них є кодекс честі, вони дотримуються правил війни.

Сам форт тут не зайвий. В ньому Дункан зізнається Мунро, що хоче пошлюбити його доньку. "Кору?" - радісно вигукує Мунро. "Ні-ні, - знічено відповідає Дункан. - Еліс!"
- Ах, ви за це відповісте на дуелі! Думаєте, раз Кора не є білою, то можна так зневажити її батька! - реве Мунро.
"Whaaaat?!" - думають читачі і читачки. А виявляється, що мама Кори на чверть темношкіра. (Тобто Кора - на 1/8). І за це її, Кору, постійно принижували і зневажали в дитинстві. І тепер Дункан зневажає.
- Ні-ні! - вигукує Дункан. - Я люблю Еліс. А колір шкіри тут ні до чого.
І додає:
- А мама Еліс біла?
"Чорт забирай! - думаємо ми. - Купере, ти майстер показати, що навіть благородний білий - це шматок расизму і упереджень! Майстерно!"

І якщо ви раптом подумаєте, що вам здалося, то Купер потім пояснить, що і Натті упереджений. Так-так, всі ці нападки на "французьких" індіанців - це упередженість Натті. Як і його "сліпота" на колоніалізм білих. Купер це показує. Купер це розказує. Він в ролі всезнаючого наратора час до часу каже, що Натті упереджений, що він помиляється щодо "гуронів" і так далі.

Саме тут і варто пильніше придивитися до Магуа. Так, він негативний персонаж, але як людина він... Він нормальний. Його "шлях до зла" - також наслідок колоніалізму. Магуа був вождем, але пристрастився до алкоголю. І тому полковник Мунро - під час однієї з військових кампаній - наказав Магуа покарати за те, що він напився. Загалом, тепер в Магуа вся спина в шрамах. Для індіанців це величезна ганьба. Рани на спині - рани боягуза! І ось тепер він хоче помститися Мунро, викравши його доньку, змусивши її одружитися. Донька гордого полковника у вігвамі Магуа - що може бути принизливішим для білого.

Так, помста не дуже "біла", але хіба саме бажання помсти аж таке неблагородне? Ба більше, Магуа постає наче Ункасом, якого зламали білі. І він благородний! Магуа раптом стає трагічною фігурою. Якщо під час першого викрадення доньок Мунро Магуа готовий з легкістю вбити Кору, то під час третього викрадення він не наважується. Вони смілива, вона показала силу духу. Він не може просто так її вбити. Він її поважає. І через це Магуа постає не просто плоским лиходієм, але складною особистістю, яка не є поганою самою по собі. Навпаки, йому починаєш співчувати.

Саме тут зрозуміло, навіщо в останній частині роману з головними героями подався Мунро, хоча він нічого не робить. Делавари влаштовують похорон Корі та Ункасу. По-перше, для них Кора - гідна поваги та найвищого вшанування. Вони ігнорують її колір шкіри. Хоча для білих він був визначальним. (Вище я писав про її дитинство). По-друге, Мунро йде о��разу після похорону доньки. Він байдужий до похорону Ункаса. Ункаса, який пожертував собою, щоб врятувати його доньок! Ба більше, Мунро йде разом з французьким посланцем до делаварів. Французьким! Хоча саме через негідну поведінку французів і потрапили Кора та Еліс до індіанського полону. Купер цим показує: білі пересварили між собою індіанців, але, насправді, білі - як би не ворогували між собою - завжди будуть союзниками проти корінного населення. Завжди. Й індіанець для них завжди буде людиною нижчого сорту.

Саме тому Купер і вводить Таменунда - мудрого вождя делаварів. Насправді, все просто. Чингачгук, Магуа та Таменунд однаково описують білих: ті прийшли забрати їхні землі. Це говорить і прихильний до білих, і ворожий, і байдужий індіанці. Цим Купер показує: це не їхні упередженості. Це закономірність.

Але найсильніший образ книги - Чингачгук, який співає прощальну пісню за Ункасом. Це геніально! Але для цього потрібно спершу прочитати Піонерів. Купер свідомо повторює сцени співу: і там, і там Чингачгук співає. Але в Піонерах це спів зламаного, підкореного індіанця. А в Останньому з могікан це спів вільної і гордої людини. Це настільки сильний образ, що годі втриматися від сліз.

Саме такою і є суть роману Останній з могікан: показати, яку культуру знищили білі колонізатори. І показати, як її знищували.

Саме тому читання в хронологічному порядку підводитиме. Воно не дозволятиме побачити, як Купер вибудовує своє послання для сучасників. З одного боку, мінусом є слабо прописані характери. І зразу буде видно, що Натті виходить ідентичним чи в 32, чи в 68 років. З іншого боку, деякі дрібні нитки між романами стають видимими. Наприклад, полковник Еффінгем, як��й є опікуном Натті (згідно з Піонерами). В Останньому з могікан він фігуруватиме одним рядком: Дункан спитає в Натті, чи знає він Еффінгема. І Натті гордо саже: як то я не знаю?! Все, сцена завершена. Але якщо читати в порядку написання, то можна помітити, що це відсилка до Піонерів.

Тому, підсумовуючи, Купер написав чудовий антиколоніальний роман. В ньому є багато оригінальних речей. Вони не є новаторськими. Але вони показують талант Купера: як він намагався послуговуючись "інструментами" романтизму розказати антиколоніальну історію.
Profile Image for Czarny Pies.
2,483 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2018
Before Iraq, before VietNam, before WWI and before WWII, before the Civil War and even before the War of Independence, there were the French and Indian Wars. This novel is about the first major war in the History of United States. All Americans were Englishmen, the French were the enemies and the Indians tried to figure out who to side with. When it was over the English won, the French lost and the Mohicans were exterminated.

This novel tells us that much as there is great nobility in the American warrior every battle has collateral damage.

Every young American should read this book. It tells us how different were the first battles and how different the future battles will be. The good will always die young.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,953 reviews485 followers
February 15, 2023
I'll admit it! Daniel Day-Lewis ruined it for me. My love for the film made me despise the book. The ending of the movie made my heart burst, the book left me screaming!









Goodreads review published 03/13
Profile Image for Lady An  ☽.
708 reviews
July 16, 2018
Well, what can I said? I guess everyone watched the movie, it's a great action movie from 1992, directed by the genius Michael Mann, with some love scenes and an amazing BSO (Vangelis made it once again!)👏. Reference: Trevor Jones. (Labyrinth).
An American classic as well. 🇺🇸
Fenimore describes the Mohicans tribu, the Sisters (the valiant Cora & Alice), the explorer, the Hurons, La Longue Carabine (Hawkeye), Heyward, Munro (the father's girl), the evil Mangua (Le Renard Subtil), Duncan and our Last Mohican: Uncas. They are the characters in this book.
I guess that I've learned a lot reading it, places, names, new words in English (was a bilingual edition), and at the end I remember so well the ending scene that when I watched it, everytime I cry.
14 reviews
May 15, 2008
Well, let me say this...very tough book to read. The author is a genius and use so much adjectives and descriptiveness. I mean, for instance, the Author spends a page and a half describing the sunset and its glory compared to their peril. Awesome book to read and is way different from the movie. A must read for hardcore readers.
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