James Fennimore Cooper(1789 - 1851) Leatherstocking Tales
I. A Brief Biography • 1．Life story • 1) born in a rich family • 2) attended Yale but expelled because of misconduct • 3) five years at sea • 4) inherited fortune and lived a comfortable life
I. A Brief Biography • 2. Major works • In his lifetime Cooper wrote thirty-two novels, eight of which are set in the frontiers he and his family had known. • His first novel was written on a dare from his wife. Warren Walker states that,
I. A Brief Biography • . . . In the customary practice of the day he was reading aloud to his wife one evening from a current English novel, but found the story dull. Throwing it aside, he declared, "I could write a better book than that myself." And Susan's challenge to make good his boast resulted in his writing Precaution (1820). . .
I. A Brief Biography • His novels fall into 4 categories: • (1) historical novel---The Spy (1821) • (2) socio-political novel • (3) the sea adventure tale---The Pilot (1824) • (4) the frontier saga--- The Leatherstocking Tales (1823 - 41)The History of the Navy of the United States of America, 1839.
I. A Brief Biography • 3. The Leatherstocking Tales (1823 - 41) • <<皮袜子故事集>> • The Deerslayer (1841) <<杀鹿者>> • The Last of the Mohicans (1826) <<最后的莫希干人>>The Pathfinder (1840) <<探路者>>The Pioneer (1823) <<拓荒者>>The Prairie (1827) <<大草原>>
I. A Brief Biography • The Leather-Stocking Tales account for five of these novels about pioneer life, and yet in popularity they have outweighed all of Cooper's other works. The Tales contain a five volume biography of their protagonist Natty Bumppo.
I. A Brief Biography • Natty Bumppo: • several names for the same character: Hawk-eye, the Pathfinder, the Deerslayer, Leatherstocking; a typical frontier man: honest, simple, innocent, generous; represents brotherhood of man, nature and freedom; an ideal American, or a perfect example / father image of the frontier man
I. A Brief Biography • Theme: modern civilization advancing on the wilderness and the conflicts between them • 4. Features1) Good at inventing plots (Cooper had never been to the frontier area personally.)2) Style: powerful, yet clumsy and dreadful3) Wooden Characters 4) Use of dialect, but not authentic
I. A Brief Biography • 5. Contributions of Cooper • In his thirty-two years (1820-1851) of authorship, Cooper produced twenty-nine other long works of fiction and fifteen books - enough to fill forty-eight volumes in the new definitive edition of his Works. Among his achievements are:
I. A Brief Biography • 1) The first successful American historical romance in the vein of Sir Walter Scott (The Spy, 1821). • 2) The first sea novel (The Pilot, 1824). • 3) The first attempt at a fully researched historical novel (Lionel Lincoln, 1825). • 4) The first full-scale History of the Navy of the United States of America (1839).
I. A Brief Biography • 5) The first American international novel of manners (Homeward Bound and Home as Found, 1838). • 6) The first trilogy in American fiction (Satanstoe, 1845; The Chainbearer, 1845; and The Redskins, 1846). • 7) The first and only five-volume epic romance to carry its mythic hero - Natty Bumppo - from youth to old age. • 8) Finding "the West" and "the frontier life" as materials for literary works; introducing Western tradition into American literature.
I. A Brief Biography • James Cooper has had many critics. One of the well-known people who put Cooper's novels under great scrutiny and attacked his works continuously has been Mark Twain. Although scholars agree that some of Cooper's novels have flaws, most concur that he is usually underestimated. As Warren points out "without Cooper America would be deprived of brilliant power of observation." • James Fennimore Cooper's writings live on to prove that Cooper belongs in the same category as other great novelists of his time.
II. The Last of the Mohicans • The Last of the Mohicans is an epic novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in January 1826. It is the most famous of the Leatherstocking Tales. It was one of the most popular English-language novels of its time, and helped establish Cooper as one of the first world-famous American writers.
II. The Last of the Mohicans • The story is set in the British province of New York during the French and Indian War, and concerns a massacre of a colonial garrison and a fictional kidnapping of two sisters, who were the daughters of the commander of Fort William Henry. Parts of the story may have been derived from the capture and death of Jane McCrea, in July 1777 near Fort Edward, New York, by members of an Algonquian tribe.
II. The Last of the Mohicans • Plot summary • The plot involves Hawkeye and his Mohican companions Chingachgook and Uncas escorting the Munro sisters, the dark-haired Cora and the blonde Alice, through the woods of New York to Fort William Henry. Also in the party are British army Major Duncan Heyward and a psalmist named David Gamut.
II. The Last of the Mohicans • They engage in deadly fights along the way against Hurons led by Magua in a cycle of capture and rescue and recapture. An encounter with another American Indian tribe called the Delaware in the second half of the novel will prove crucial towards the end.
II. The Last of the Mohicans • The book ends in tragedy, with Uncas and Cora perishing. Magua perishes from Hawkeye's rifle as he hangs off a ledge. Cooper developed his account based on existing writings and his imagination, rather than actual contact with any individuals. However, the history of the bitter, vengeful Magua, who was once beaten and humiliated by Colonel Munro, shows deep understanding of the treatment of captives by the Indian tribes. His treatment of the Native Americans shows a deep sympathy for their culture.