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From the Publisher"[Cooper's] sympathy is large, and his humor is as genuine -- and as perfectly unaffected -- as his art."
- Joseph Conrad
Nearly 200 years on, the tale of The Last of the Mohicans is still a part of the American consciousness.
— Kerrie Mills
Mine ear is open, and my heart prepared; The worst is worldly loss thou canst unfold:— Say, is my kingdom lost? Richard II, III.ii. 93–95.
It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered, before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide, and, apparently, an impervious boundary of forests, severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England. The hardy colonist, and the trained European who fought at his side, frequently expended months in struggling against the rapids of the streams, or in effecting the rugged passes of the mountains, in quest of an opportunity to exhibit their courage in a more martial conflict. But, emulating the patience and self-denial of the practised native warriors, they learned to overcome every difficulty; and it would seem, that in time, there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe.
Perhaps no district, throughout the wide extent of the intermediate frontiers, can furnish a livelier picture of the cruelty and fierceness of the savage warfare of those periods, than the country which lies between the head waters of the Hudson and the adjacent lakes.
The facilities which nature had there offered to the march of the combatants, were too obvious to be neglected. The lengthened sheet of the Champlain stretched from the frontiers of Canada, deep within the borders of the neighbouring province of New-York, forming a natural passage across half the distance that the French were compelled to master in order to strike their enemies. Near its southern termination, it received the contributions of another lake, whose waters were so limpid, as to have been exclusively selected by the Jesuit missionaries, to perform the typical purification of baptism, and to obtain for it the title of the lake “du Saint Sacrement.” The less zealous English thought they conferred a sufficient honour on its unsullied fountains, when they bestowed the name of their reigning prince, the second of the House of Hanover. The two united to rob the untutored possessors of its wooded scenery of their native right to perpetuate its original appellation of “Horican.”*
Winding its way among countless islands, and imbedded in mountains, the “holy lake” extended a dozen leagues still farther to the south. With the high plain that there interposed itself to the further passage of the water, commenced a portage of as many miles, which conducted the adventurer to the banks of the Hudson, at a point, where, with the usual obstructions of the rapids, or rifts, as they were then termed in the language of the country, the river became navigable to the tide.
While, in the pursuit of their daring plans of annoyance, the restless enterprise of the French even attempted the distant and difficult gorges of the Alleghany, it may easily be imagined that their proverbial acuteness would not overlook the natural advantages of the district we have just described. It became, emphatically, the bloody arena, in which most of the battles for the mastery of the colonies were contested. Forts were erected at the different points that commanded the facilities of the route, and were taken and retaken, rased and rebuilt, as victory alighted on the hostile banners. While the husbandmen shrunk back from the dangerous passes, within the safer boundaries of the more ancient settlements, armies larger than those that had often disposed of the sceptres of the mother countries, were seen to bury themselves in these forests, whence they rarely returned but in skeleton bands, that were haggard with care, or dejected by defeat. Though the arts of peace were unknown to this fatal region, its forests were alive with men; its glades and glens rang with the sounds of martial music, and the echoes of its mountains threw back the laugh, or repeated the wanton cry, of many a gallant and reckless youth, as he hurried by them, in the noontide of his spirits, to slumber in a long night of forgetfulness.
* As each nation of the Indians had either its language or its dialect, they usually gave different names to the same places, though nearly all of their appellations were descriptive of the object. Thus, a literal translation of the name of this beautiful sheet of water, used by the tribe that dwelt on its banks, would be “The tail of the Lake.” Lake George, as it is vulgarly, and now indeed legally, called, forms a sort of tail to Lake Champlain, when viewed on the map. Hence the name. 
It was in this scene of strife and bloodshed, that the incidents we shall attempt to relate occurred, during the third year of the war which England and France last waged, for the possession of a country, that neither was destined to retain.
Maps (Figures A-C)
James Fenimore Cooper: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
Figure D: Title Page of Volume I of The Last of the Mohicans
Prefaces (1826, 1831, 1850)
The Last of the Mohicans, Volume I
Figure E: Title Page of Volume II of The Last of the Mohicans
The Last of the Mohicans, Volume II
Appendix A: Illustrations (Figures F-J)
Appendix B: Cooper's Historical Sources
1. History, Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations by Rev. John Heckewelder (1819)
2. Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America, Third London Edition by J. Carver (1781)
3. Remarks, Made on a Short Tour Between Hartford and Quebec by Benjamin Silliman (1820)
Appendix C: Recollections and Appraisals of Cooper
1. Anonymous review of The Last of the Mohicans in the United States Literary Gazette (1826)
2. Anonymous review in Literary Gazette and Journal of the Belles Lettres, London (1826)
3. Review of The Last of the Mohicans in the North American Review by W. H. Gardiner (1826)
4. "Discourse on the Life, Genius and Writings of J. Fenimore Cooper" by William Cullen Bryant (1852)
5. Susan Fenimore Cooper on The Last of the Mohicans (1861)
6. "Fenimore Cooper's Further Literary Offenses" by Mark Twain (around 1895)
Appendix D: Historical Context - The Cherokee Removal
1. Indian Removal Act of the United States Congress (1830)
2. Andrew Jackson’s Second State of the Union Address (1830)
1. How do Cooper's characters, specifically Natty Bumppo and the Indian Magua, test the boundary between Indian and white cultures? What happens to these characters? How does the metaphorical racial boundary extend to that between wilderness and cultivated land, if at all?
2. What are the differences Cooper outlines between the Mohicans and the Delawares, and to what end? What role does Uncas play in the conflict between the two tribes? What is the significance of his relationship with Cora?
3. How does Natty Bumppo's view of society oppose Munro's, particularly at the novel's conclusion? How do Natty's views support or contradict his own existence, straddling two worlds as he does? How does this deep-rooted ambivalence about social and racial hierarchy inform the novel?
Well, I must be the bearer of bad news here: the back cover of the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of this novel leads readers astray. It mentions "death-defying chases and teeth-clenching suspense," but let me tell you, there's nothing teeth-clenching about this book. I've never liked Cooper's writing, so I may come off as a little harsh, but the plot is average at best and even painfully predictable at times. Granted, plot isn't everything, but this novel does not possess many qualities that redeem the floundering plot. Cooper writes rather coldly, and his characters, with the possible exception of Hawk-eye, are extremely flat and even unlikable, which does not work well for this kind of story. I must give Cooper credit for his exquisite descriptions, especially of the vast frontier wilderness, but unfortunately for Cooper, description alone doesn't make a good book. I'd like to read The Last of the Mohicans again, just to make sure I didn't miss some revelation the first time around, but when the book cover is better than the story, you know something's wrong.
9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 16, 2008
Lest its importance be lost, let me praise at once the Barnes and Noble Classics edition of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS for its bit more than one page long essay -- 431f-- after the end notes -- called 'INSPIRED BY THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.' By Stephen Railton, 'INSPIRED' lists and describes notable cinema inspired by Cooper's masterpiece. They begin with D. W. Griffith's 1909 one reeler, LEATHER STOCKING and move along through the 1920 Maurice Tourneur version with Wallace Beery as the satanic Magua and 1924 and 1936 versions by director George B. Seitz, the last starring Randolph Scott 'in perhaps the performance of his career.' Michael Mann's Oscar- winning 1992 THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is great fun but bears very little resemblance to Cooper's original. *** The last words of this great novel give a sense of what the point of the yarn is. They are solemn remarks by ancient chief Tamenund, well over a century old, whose name is also preserved as Tammany and in 'Tammany Hall.' He concludes thus the funeral rites for Cora and Uncas: 'It is enough,' he said. 'Go, children, of the Lenape, the anger of Manitou is not done. ... The pale-faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the red-men has not yet come again. The day has been too long. In the morning I saw the sons of Unamis [turtles, totem, i.e., of Delawares of the eastern seaboard] 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.' 'Ch XXXIII' *** This book is probably too leisurely for children or even college students who are not English majors. Read it for a sad meditation on why American Indians and European whites never found a way to live together as equals and form an entirely new North American civilization -- much as the Normans had done in Saxon England. Fenimore Cooper makes much of white prejudices against interracial marriages. That Scottish Cora could love and be loved by the last Mohican Indian, gorgeous young Uncas, was thinkable to Cooper's readers only because far back in time she had had a West Indian granddam of color. *** Cooper also notes that the massacre of surrendered troops of Fort William Henry by Indian allies of the French was the second such incident to blot the copy book of the Marquis de Montcalm. *** A final historical suggestion by Cooper is that the Indians could have made themselves as much junior partners of the colonials as the savage Highlanders of Scotland eventually became of Scottish lowlanders and the vastly more numerous English. But the Indians could not unite. They spent too much time killing and raiding other Indians to resist the all-conquering European whites. --- -OOO-
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2010
Twain was right about Fenimore....but i still need to read all the classics i blew off or didn't finish in HS
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2010
This Book took me a long time to finish. It is a good story and should be read. But it is really slow going, and i found that parts of it are boring. if you have trouble getting through books you shouldnt read it.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2013
Posted November 21, 2006
Huge fan of the movie but I must say it was hard to finish this book. I tried to put myself in the mindset of the time it was written, but the book was simply just too boring. Explanations and events in the story were excruciatingly too drawn out and the dialogue was ridiculous in a lot of parts.
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2014
Posted November 30, 2014
Posted November 29, 2014
Posted December 1, 2014
Shooed river off, then buried void, breaking her promise to not come to her funeral. Before she covered the body up, she licked voids cheek one last time. Goodbye, void. You were an amazing leader and an even better friend. She whispered silently, not crying, but extremely sad.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2014
[ I gtg, so Void has to die. She was fun while it lasted. :3 ]
The snarl died in her throat as the bone snapped. Her eyes went cold and suddenly, River was left holding her deadweight.
[ Nighters! ]
Posted November 29, 2014
Posted November 30, 2014
[ okay it was fun! Lol maybe make a new one and make him/her River's new enemy ;3 youre a great fighter!]
River set her down under a willow tree just to show respect. She padded and to camp triumphantly
[Have a good sleep xD]
Posted November 30, 2014
Posted November 26, 2014
Posted November 7, 2014
This book is like a visit from an old and wise friend. A refreshing read. Well written. Cooper's deep research is so beautifully evident in his lyrical descriptions. My only problem was NOT enough time to read and absorb the book during the election period. I will certainly read it again before I die.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2014
I love this story which is about Hawkeye, the colonial scout, and Chingachkook, the Mohican warrior who are brought togethet by their love of the New World forests and their desire for peace between their races. Set against the exciting days of the French and Indian War, their story-heroically risking their lives to guide two English sisters through hostile territory, battling the evil Le Renard Subtil- is a story of how trust and understanding can develop between people of two cultures.
By my point of view, that's the summary. I read some of the book to my little brother....but he got bored when there was no action, shooting, or talking sometimes. So I ended up reading the end to myself. My favorite characters are Hawkeye, Heyward, and Uncas.
My worst characters are the BAD INDIANS AND LE RENARD SUBTIL.
Depressions: Cora, Uncas, sadness, graves, treaties, deaths, and ending.
Posted August 13, 2014
B & N you need to police this site and stop all thie media conversations going on. This is for the readers who want ro review a book. Take care of this matter now becuse it is getting out of handWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2014
Posted April 29, 2014