Thursday, 4 February 2010

On this day...

James Fenimore Cooper's historical novel 'The Last of the Mohicans' was published in 1826. The second installment in the 'Leatherstocking Tales' pentalogy takes place in 1757 during the Seven Years War, in which the French allied themselves with Native American tribes against British control. The subsequent racial issues which the novel raises, have combined with masterful characterisation to create one of the most popular works from the nineteenth century, and one which remains an integral part of any American literature courses.

However, its critical acclaim is not consistent from all sides. Many have disliked the particularly verbose narrative style which Cooper employed, and indeed its popularity has dwindled slightly in modern audiences for that very reason. Mark Twain believed this style, which Cooper used for his other works, was detremental, saying, 'Cooper has scored 114 offences against literary art out of a possible 115... It breaks the record'. The novel has seen many adaptations, the most recent of which was a film in 1992, starring Daniel Day Lewis.

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