Fabian's Reviews > The Prairie

The Prairie by James Fenimore Cooper
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Sep 12, 11

Read from August 28 to September 12, 2011

Analyze the shit outta any of these classics and you are bound to discover the golden nugget that someone somewhere once found and classified as such. Not the case with this, the last of the Leatherstocking tales, one not for modern readers. At all.

Campfire philosophy is perhaps the least interesting aspect of this tale (the opposite case of, say, the superlative "Lonesome Dove") which is about 200 years old… and by setting all players on leveled, even ground (Shakespeare’s plays are often quoted), insipid insights are often found in the form of stagnant, pedantic, unrealistic dialogue. While the actions of all the characters seem to occur in slow motion, dialogue is also the endearing device used to slow down the pace of the narrative.

The emigrants meet up with the over-the-hill character (Natty Bumppo, alias “the trapper”) from The Last of the Mohicans and they unite to stand against the Tetons. Natty Bumppo then becomes part of the human drama he has so evidently avoided in the past, paralleling his distaste for the sound of axe chopping wood. Does Cooper say that woods people, deer slayers, trappers, hunters, all easily assimilate to newly forming societies? Is it really that easy to speak to your own skin-type, when there’s absolutely nobody else around? There is a pervasive type of hesitation throughout the tale, in the manner the characters expose themselves, in the way the narrative is overabundant with words and extraneous extended descriptions. I loathed having to read it for class, spending time with it was as futile as, gasp, having to spend time with anything by the likes of Ayn Rand. Inviting headaches, it is an infuriating experience: droll and dull.
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