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The Last of the Mohicans  
Dernier-mohican-giffeu-delagrave 1937.jpg
Author James Fenimore Cooper
Country United States of America
Language English
Series Leatherstocking
Genre(s) Historical novel
Publisher H.C. Carey & I. Lea
Publication date February 1826
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Pages 2 vol.
ISBN N/A
Preceded by The Pioneers (1823)
Followed by The Prairie (1827)
Illustration from 1896 edition, by J.T. Merrill

The Last of the Mohicans is a historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in January 1826. It is the second book of the Leatherstocking Tales pentalogy and the best known. The Pathfinder, published 14 years later in 1840, is its sequel.[1]

The story takes place in 1757, during the French and Indian War (the Seven Years' War), when France and Great Britain battled for control of the North American colonies. During this war, the French called on allied Native American tribes to fight with the more numerous British colonists.

Cooper named a principal character Uncas after a well-known Mohegan sachem who had been an ally of the English in 17th-century Connecticut. Cooper seemed to confuse or merge the names of the two tribes. Cooper's well-known book helped confuse popular understanding of the tribes to the present day. After the death of John Uncas in 1842, the last surviving male descendant of Uncas, the Newark Daily Advertiser wrote, "Last of the Mohegans Gone", lamenting the extinction of the tribe.[2] The writer did not realize the Mohegan people still existed. They continue to survive today and are a federally recognized tribe, based in Connecticut.

The novel was one of the most popular in English in its time, although critics identified narrative flaws. Its length and formal prose style have limited its appeal to later readers. Mark Twain criticized its style: "Cooper’s art has some defects. In one place in ‘Deerslayer’ and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offences against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record." [3] The Last of the Mohicans remains widely read in American literature courses.

Contents

Plot

The story is set in the British province of New York during the Seven Years War. It features a Huron massacre (with French acquiescence) of between 2,000 to 2,500 Anglo-American and British troops, who had honorably surrendered at Fort William-Henry, plus some women and servants. The Huron kidnapped two sisters, daughters of the British commander, and others. The last two Mohican warriors rescue the kidnapped women. Parts of the story may have been inspired by the capture and death of Jane McCrea in July 1777 near Fort Edward, New York, by members of an Algonquian tribe.

The character Chingachgook speaks a line that holds the title, saying, "[W]hen Uncas follows in my footsteps, there will no longer be any of the blood of the sagamores, for my boy is the last of the Mohicans."[4] The title is also referred to near the end of the book, when Tamenund says, "I have lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans."[5]

Characters

  • Magua (ma-gwah)– the villain of the piece; a Huron chief driven from his tribe for drunkenness and later whipped by the British Army (also for drunkenness), for which he blames Colonel Munro. Also known as "Sly Fox."
  • Chingachgook – last chief of the Mohican tribe; escort to the traveling Munro sisters, father to Uncas. Also has the Indian name of "Great Snake".
  • Uncas – the son of Chingachgook and the titular "Last of the Mohicans" (meaning, the last pure-blooded Mohican born).[6]
  • Natty Bumppo/ Hawkeye – the "American hero" and escort to the Munro sisters, long-time friend of Chingachgook. Also known to the Indians and the French as "La Longue Carabine" on account of his long rifle and shooting skills.
  • Cora Munro – dark-haired daughter of Colonel Munro; her mother (who died young) was a mulatto,[7] half-white half-Negro[8]; which means that Cora is a quadroon[9]. The Huron chief Magua takes a liking to her and wants to make her his wife. Later in the book Cora meets her end by the knife of one of Magua's men.
  • Alice Munro – Cora's younger, blonde half-sister.
  • Colonel Munro – the sisters' father, a British army colonel in command of Fort William Henry.
  • Duncan Heyward – a British army major from Virginia who falls in love with Alice Munro.[10]
  • David Gamut – a psalmodist (teacher of psalm singing) also known as "the singing master" due to the fact that he sang for every event.
  • General Daniel Webb – Colonel Munro's commanding officer, originally stationed at Albany, who later takes command at Fort Edward (from where he cannot or will not come to Colonel Munro's aid when Fort William Henry is besieged by the French).
  • General Marquis de Montcalm – the French commander-in-chief, referred to by the Hurons and other Indian allies of the French as "The great white father of the Canadas".
  • Tamenund – An ancient, wise, and revered Delaware Indian sage who has outlived three generations of warriors. He is the "Sachem" of the Delaware.

Style and themes

A notable feature of the story is that Cooper uses more than one name for many of the characters and groups of people. For example, Hawkeye is also known as Natty Bumpo, La Longue Carabine, Long Rifle, and Scout.

Another feature of the story is Cooper's noted detailed and verbose descriptions of places, characters, events, and so on.

Adaptations

A number of films have been based on the lengthy book, with numerous cuts, compressions, and distortions occurring in the story. The American adaptations include The Last of the Mohicans (1920), starring Wallace Beery, The Last of the Mohicans (1932), starring Harry Carey, The Last of the Mohicans (1936), starring Randolph Scott, and The Last of the Mohicans (1992), starring Daniel Day-Lewis. The 1920 film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The 1992 version, directed by Michael Mann, was (according to Mann) based more on the 1936 film version than on Cooper's book. Many of the scenes from the 1992 movie did not follow the book; in particular, some characters who survive the events of the novel die in the film, and vice versa.

In Germany, Der Letzte der Mohikaner, with Béla Lugosi as Chingachgook, was the second part of the two-part Lederstrumpf film released in 1920. Based on the same series of the novels, Chingachgook die Grosse Schlange (Chingachgook the Great Serpent), starring Gojko Mitic as Chingachgook, appeared in East Germany in 1967, and became popular throughout the Eastern Bloc.

There was a Canadian-produced TV series, Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans in 1957 with Lon Chaney, Jr..

The British Broadcasting Corporation made an eight chapter TV serial of the book in 1971, with Philip Madoc as Magua.

The usual deletions from cinematic versions of The Last of the Mohicans are the extensive sections about the Indians themselves, thus confounding Cooper's purpose. Further, romantic relationships, non-existent or minimal in the novel, are generated between the principal characters, and the roles of some characters are reversed or altered, as are the events.

In 1977, Lake George Opera presented an opera version The Last of the Mohicans by composer Alva Henderson.[11]

In 2004, an animated TV series version (originally named L'ultimo dei Mohicani) was produced by MondoTV and RaiFiction in association with The Animation Band and Studio Sek, consisting of 26 episodes.

Marvel Comics has published two versions of the story: in 1976 a one-issue version as part of their Marvel Classics Comics series (issue #13); and in 2007 a six-issue mini-series to start off the new Marvel Illustrated series.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Cf. the Leatherstocking Tales for a chart showing both the chroskfl;skldorder and the order of publication of the five novels.
  2. ^ Oberg, pg. 7
  3. ^ Fendfadsimode Cooper's Literary Offence by Mark Twain, pg. 1
  4. ^ Last of the Mohicans (2003 B&N Classics edition), Chapter III, pg. 26
  5. ^ Last of the Mohicans (1968 paperback edition), Chapter 33, pg. 600
  6. ^ "Uncas will be the last pure-blooded Mohican because there are no pure-blooded Mohican women for him to marry." University of Houston study guide
  7. ^ Urdang, p. 875
  8. ^ Urdang, p. 875
  9. ^ Urdang, p. 1079
  10. ^ "My request, as you know, sir, went so far as to presume to the honor of being your son" ... "And to marry whom, then, did you wish my consent, Major Heyward?" demanded the old soldier, "You have another and not less lovely child." "Alice!" exclaimed the father, in an astonishment equal to that with which Duncan had just repeated the name of her sister. "Such was the direction of my wishes, sir" {from Chapter XVI in James Fenimore Cooper, Works of J. Fenimore Cooper, 10 vols., (New York: P.F. Collier, Pub., 1892) 2:95}. See also the James Fenimore Cooper Society's plot summary for The Last of the Mohicans at the paragraph beginning with the chapter number: [16] [1].
  11. ^ Welcome to Lake George Opera of Saratoga, New York

References

  • Oberg, Michael Leroy, Uncas, First of the Mohegans, 2003, ISBN 0-8014-3877-2
  • L'ultimo dei Mohicani
  • Urdang, Laurence. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. 1969. Library of Congress 68-19699.

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
A Narrative of 1757
The Last of the Mohicans is an epic novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in January 1826. 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. Although stylistic and narrative flaws left it open to criticism since its publication, and its length and distinctive prose style have reduced its appeal to later readers, The Last of the Mohicans remains embedded in American literature courses. It is the most famous of the Leatherstocking Tales.— Excerpted from The Last of the Mohicans on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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