The Deerslayer

by James Fenimore Cooper






Signet Classic, Edition: 9th THUS


Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: The Deerslayer is the last book in Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales pentalogy, but acts as a prequel to the other novels. It begins with the rapid civilizing of New York, in which surrounds the following books take place. It introduces the hero of the Tales, Natty Bumppo, and his philosophy that every living thing should follow its own nature. He is contrasted to other, less conscientious, frontiersmen..


Original publication date


User reviews

LibraryThing member Lukerik
A perfectly good cheapo edition with few typos and no notes. But who needs notes? A quick internet search told me that Lake Glimmerglass is real. It appears to be Lake Otsego, on the shores of which Cooper grew up (not Lake Champlain as stated in the introduction). The Red Indians are also
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apparently real. I’m sure they’re exactly as described by the pale-face author of this book.

The novel does have merits. It’s essentially about the conflict between the Indians and the settlers. There’s a conversation early on when Deerslayer and Hurry state their respective positions on the Indians, Hurry thinking them animals and the Deerslayer, men. There’s something psychologically interesting going on with Deerslayer. Here’s a man who’s more than half Indian and the conflict is internalised as he constantly struggles to assert the dominance of his European heritage and its ‘gifts’. Unfortunately, Cooper lacks any concept of subtlety. He keeps stressing this internal conflict throughout the novel, long after we have grasped the metaphor and well past the point of nausea.

There are serious problems with the novel. Mark Twain’s essay is spot on and I recommend you read it, but I think it’s worth mentioning here that the dialogue is broken, broken and cannot be fixed. Maybe Cooper was one of those people who never listen to other people. There is a good adventure novel in here somewhere, but it is obscured by Cooper’s astounding incompetence. He cannot shut up and constantly interrupts himself, and otherwise interesting scenes with poorly written digressions. Many times I found myself sitting back astonished at his lack of judgement. The trick to getting through to the end is to read with an eye to discovering the most risible examples of his incompetence and to enjoy for their own sake those parts that work on their own merits.
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LibraryThing member Othemts
This is the first chronological story of Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales although the last of the five books published by Cooper. I've long intended to read this book and I was somewhat disappointed. It was hard to get past the racism, sexism, and ableism (the inordinate references to Hetty as
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"feeble-minded") even while making allowances for these attitudes being accepted at the time the story is set as well as when Cooper was writing. The excessive piety and preachiness of Deerslayer and Hetty get obnoxious as well.

That being said, I did enjoy the setting of the book in a New York when it was still a wilderness with warring parties of English & French, Huron, Iroquois & Deleware fighting for it's control. And for all the stereotypes, Cooper wryly shows how the native Indians and the simple woodsman Deerslayer can be more civilized than Europeans like Floating Tom and Hurry Harry.

Despite my disappointment, I would still like to give the next book (chronologically) in the series a chance -- The Last of the Mohicans -- as it has a good reputation.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
One has to be in the proper mood to enjoy these books. A bit of romance, a bit of adventure, quite a bit of moralizing. I enjoyed them when I read them, but have no desire to read them again. I've since read enough history to realize just how fictional these are. If you read them for the adventure
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and the descriptions of the Northeastern woodlands, I don't think you will be disappointed. Sadly, the plot of each has sort of blended together and I can't remember the details of any.
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LibraryThing member Stevil2001
All I knew about James Fenimore Cooper going into was that both Mark Twain and Henry David Thoreau didn't like him. This left me uncertain: the former's literary advice I trust, but not the latter's. As it turned out, I really enjoyed the first third of this novel: it's tense, as the characters
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sneak through a river valley, completely unaware of where the Indian threat might be working. The Ark, a floating home on Lake Otsego, is a great concept, and the whole atmosphere really works. Unfortunately, nothing new ever happens after that point: a succession of characters are captured, and Natty Bumppo must rescue them all (including himself) time and again. I was pretty much done with this idea by the time I was two-thirds of the way through, but still the book continued in endless circles. My enjoyment was not enhanced that every characters seems to have six different names, and every character has one name (or more) which begins with "H". Either fact on its own would be mildly confusing; put them together, and it's utterly baffling. Disappointing, but I'd be willing to give more Cooper a try on the basis of those opening chapters.
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LibraryThing member Hantsuki
I was slightly hesitant in reading this because I had previously read The Last of the Mohicans which was a little harder to decipher especially since I was only a freshman at the time. To my delight, this novel was a much easier read, and to my surprise, I finished it in no time at all. I can
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understand that a lot of contemporary readers would not enjoy this novel mainly because it was written for the readers of its time, but if you think about how the action helps move this story forward and ho...moreI was slightly hesitant in reading this because I had previously read The Last of the Mohicans which was a little harder to decipher especially since I was only a freshman at the time. To my delight, this novel was a much easier read, and to my surprise, I finished it in no time at all. I can understand that a lot of contemporary readers would not enjoy this novel mainly because it was written for the readers of its time, but if you think about how the action helps move this story forward and how the romance keeps the story somewhat interesting, it's not as bad as you may think.
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LibraryThing member ASBiskey
I wish that this would have been on the required reading list in high-school in the place of many of those that were. It is an interesting read, and a good example of mid 19th century American literature. That being said, there are many characteristics from that period that may detract for a modern
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Sexism and racism are prevelant, though they are presented in a way that fits the period that the story takes place in and when it was written. The writers literary flourishes are somewhat excessive, though this may be symptomatic of the time it was written. The book is longer than it needs to be in terms of work count, thought the pace of the story is not terribly affected. The author's interpretation of frontier speech can be troublesome, with enough apostrophies for several books of similar length. The story cannot be categories as a humor or a tragedy with the "everyone gets marries" or "everyone dies" rules. A historical romantic tragedy may be the most apt description. A thing that I found to be disconcerting was the continuing references to the books in the series that take place later chronologically, as this was written last but takes place first. The writer's asides are just extra words to get through that do not advance the story.

All that being said, this is a book that I would recommend. The descriptions of the setting and characters bring them to life and make the reader feel for the characters in the situations they find themselves in. The self-righteousness of some characters and pig-headedness of others lends itself to the audience taking sides and rooting for one character or another. The story is simple but compelling, driven by the characters, particulary the protagonist, known by Deerslayer, among other names.

This is a book with many flaws, but one that should be read none-the-less.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
I will be one hundred and ten percent honest. I found this to be a tedious read. Maybe it's because of the subject matter. I am not a fifteen year old boy enthralled with Davey Crockett, Huckleberry Finn and the Lone Ranger. Adventure stories about scalping and woodsmen mayhem doesn't readily
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appeal to me. Aside from the beautiful illustrations The Deerslayer didn't hold my attention. The plot was pretty simple: Natty is a woodman who proves to be a respected an ally to the Mingo tribe. When that tribe is attacked by Natty's companions the tables are turned and the companions are taken hostage. There is a great deal made of how to get the companions back and a few people are accidentally murdered. Because Natty treats these killings with respect the Mingo tribe give him a nickname and build a tenuous relationship despite his choice of companions who insist on trying to scalp them.
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LibraryThing member jmcdbooks
Rated: B+
He uses the reason that God has given him, and he uses it with a fellin' of his being ordered to look at, and consider things as they are, and not as he wants them to be. It's easy enough to find them who call themselves just; but it's wonderfully oncommon to find them that are the very
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thing, in fact. (ChapterXII)

"God has been kind to me, and lifted a burden off my heart. Mother had many such burdens, she used to tell me, and she always took them off in this way. 'Tis the only way, sister, such things can be done. You may raise a stone, or a log, with your hands; but the heart must be lightened by prayer. (Chapter XXII)
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LibraryThing member NGood
This is one of my all-time favorite novels. The author does a good job of developing the characters just enough to cause you to fall in love with them (or to hate them) but with enough mystery surrounding them to make them still seem like real people. It is amazing how short a period of time such a
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large book fills, but this is accounted for by the extensive detail given to scenery and depictions of events as well as extensive conversations which take place for seemingly no reason except character development. After reading this book you feel that you have spent the past week with the characters, just hanging out and getting to know them. The themes that carry throughout the book are truth, natural gifts, race, and innocence. All in all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
If you're bored and you know it, clap your hands!
If you're bored and you know it, clap your hands!
If you're bored and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you're bored and you know it, clap your ha-ZZZZzzzz...
Damn. I have no motivation to read the sequel despite the fact that it made it
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onto several of my to-read lists.
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LibraryThing member JHemlock
I had to put this one down for a while. I picked it up and started reading it within five minutes of finishing The Count of Monte Cristo (which I read in one sitting). MY BRAIN HURT. So what do I do. I pick up Melmoth the Wanderer.
LibraryThing member jenniebooks
Entertaining with wisdom
LibraryThing member EricCostello
I'm going to disagree with Mark Twain regarding this book. While it does have a tendency to drag at certain spots, the story does paint a vivid picture of the landscape of pre-Revolutionary War upstate New York, and you get a real feel for characters. The dragging parts are where the Deerslayer
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goes on about his philosophy, which can get a bit repetitive at times. Very interesting in that the Indians are neither saints nor unrelieved villains. Worth a read.
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LibraryThing member wvlibrarydude
Well I finally finished the book. If I had to listen to Natty Bumpo talk anymore about red gifts and white man gifts and being a white Christian, I think I would have thrown the book across the room. Was it a bad book? Not necessarily. Was it a good book? No. Do I know that I should take in to
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account the time period when it was written? I do know that. But still! It doesn't mean you can separate your present day thoughts and understanding from the story. If I could take all that out and just focus on the descriptions of the natural setting, the action scenes, and anything else.. it wouldn't be a bad book. It would also be a lot shorter. Read this book with a grain of salt.

The question now, for me as a reader, is do I go on and read The Last of the Mohicans to see if the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis is actually better than the book? That my friends is the question.
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(270 ratings; 3.5)
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