Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper

The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper

Another literary classic that I’d never read. I tend to really enjoy the classic adventure stories (The Three Musketeers, Robinson Crusoe, The Count of Monte Cristo, ...) so I was looking forward to this one. About the first third lived up to my expectations: spooky sounds, lurking dangers, and hair breadth escapes. Unfortunately, the next two thirds seemed to be rehashes of the first. Even the plot was repetitive, with the heroines being captured and freed multiple times throughout. Disappointing, but still enjoyable.

I really liked the way Cooper crafted his sentences. He plays with language so much that there is even some conversation in French — with no translation provided! The setting easily came to life with his graphic descriptions and sound effects, and I had vivid images of all the characters, not just the major ones. (I was even able to avoid thinking of Alan Alda every time Hawkeye was mentioned!) The entire 350 page novel takes place over only a couple of days and as I said earlier the plot is a bit repetitive, so you can see that the bulk of the words are dedicated to description and detail.

I haven’t seen the recent recent movie (one of at least 12 according to IMDb) but I’m interested in doing so now. I’m told the plot of the movie has little in common with the novel, but if the movie captures even part of Cooper’s lush scenery it must have some amazing backdrops.

First Sentence:
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.

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