Monday, February 6, 2012

The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the MohicansThe Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
Evan’s ESS = 5 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG (Violence, Adult Content, Sleepy Narratives)

Why: Not since Moby Dick has a novel come along with such formidable sleep inducing properties.  Take heed – do not read this novel while operating heavy machinery or swimming after 9 o’clock.  No matter how hard we tried, feigned interest was the only type of interest we could muster.  We even tried turning to the female bibliomaniac and just before leaping off the couch proclaimed: “Stay alive, no matter what occurs.  I will find you!”  Alas, nothing...

The novel starts when a party of British soldiers are deceived by their guide and nearly led into an ambush of scalp losing proportions.  The effort however, is thwarted by frontiersman and all around good guy, Natty Bumpo, and his two Mohican pals.  The rest of the novel is an elaborate game of cat and mouse with various characters being captured by the Huron Indian tribe and then rescued and then captured and then rescued.    

At the end of the day, we were unable to fight through the tedious prose that destroyed The Last of the Mohicans.  Somehow Cooper managed to extract all the excitement from the French and Indian War.  Not one of the many high speed forest pursuits and suicidal rescue attempts managed to register on our internal adrenaline-o-meter (yes we have one of those).  Maybe we went into this novel expecting something too much, but it probably doesn’t help that Daniel Day-Lewis was flipp’in awesome as Hawkeye in the 1992 film adaptation.   

From a historical perspective it’s hard to argue against this novel’s merit.  Everything from geography to the culture was presented in painstaking detail, though we’ll let someone smarter than us judge the accuracy.  In a way, this novel was like The Swiss Family Robinsons where all the excitement was overshadowed by the overly descriptive narrative.  For instance Natty Bumppo (Hawkeye) had something like eleven different names (maybe closer to 4 or 5) depending on which character was addressing him. 

All we can do is pat ourselves on the back for not abandoning this read well before the finish line.  We consider this a glorious accomplishment not for the faint of heart...

8 comments:

  1. I read this one a while ago and I do agree with your Swiss Family Robinson comparison. Loved the review!

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  2. A hearty congratulations is well deserved! You lost me at "Moby Dick" for, while I did get through that tome in college, it left a bad taste in my mouth which still appears every now and then. So, no thanks, Mohicans, even IF you were the novel that gave Hawkeye (from M.A.S.H.) his nickname....

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    1. Good call! And thanks for dropping the M.A.S.H. knowledge! I'm actually quite surprised by how many people/places/things have been influenced by this novel....

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  3. I've got this on deck to read this year, but I just finished Moby Dick, so I think I will space them out quite a bit!

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    1. I would recommend a lot of space... Then again maybe you'll like it. It's all about setting expectations!

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  4. Loved your review. I read this in high school and remember liking it. But that is about all I remember! I did think the name Natty Bumppo was ridiculous for such a character, maybe that is why he had so many aliases.

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    1. My expectations were pretty high for this one, so maybe that was the problem. I can't imagine what inspired Cooper to go with Natty Bumppo... Hmmm?

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  5. My dad forced me to watch the film adaptation at some point during high school, and I spent the last half of the film weeping. Between the sad and scary parts, there wasn't much going on. Glad to know to avoid this one for sure! :)

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