Glens Falls (NY) Online Book Discussion Group discussion

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Books by Title/Title=topic name > _The Last of the Mohicans_ by James Fenimore Cooper (the book that made Glens Falls famous)

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message 1: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 02, 2008 12:50PM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments This book, _The Last of the Mohicans_ has been called "The Book That Made Glens Falls Famous."

Below is a link to the book itself:
The Last of the Mohicans (Unabridged Classics) by James Fenimore Cooper

See the article at the following website:
http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/ar...

The article is entitled:
"The Book that Made Glens Falls Famous: An Introduction to James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans"

Below is an excerpt:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The Last of the Mohicans is -- like Homer's Odyssey -- a story about a journey -- a journey in both space and in time. In space, the reader is carried from Fort Edward on the Hudson through the forests around Glens Falls, and then north to Lake George and to the British fort at its southern shore, and finally beyond the Schroon River into the unexplored depths of the Adirondacks. In time, however, The Last of the Mohicans is a journey in two directions. On the one hand, it is a story of how the British colonial settlers of the 1750s were to become the Americans of the 1820s when Cooper was writing. But in another sense it is a journey backward, from colonial New York to the days when Native Americans and their cultures were supreme. And always the novel asks two questions: What is an American? What did it cost to become an American?"

"The Last of the Mohicans is a romantic novel."

[From article by Hugh C. MacDougall, James Fenimore Cooper Society, Talk given to the Warren County Historical Society, Glens Falls, New York, on October 11, 2000, to help inaugurate "Cooper's Cave Days":]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


message 2: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 04, 2008 02:34AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Below are further excerpts from the article mentioned above.

Part VII of the article by Hugh C. MacDougall states:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I should like to close by looking at Cooper's description of Glens Falls itself."

"In Chapter 5 of the novel, Hawkeye and his Indian friends take Major Heyward and his party by canoe through the rapids at Glens Falls -- there was, of course, no dam in those days. Hawkeye lands them safely at the foot of the island in the midst of the Falls, and disappears. But he soon emerges, with a torch, to lead them into the 'narrow, deep cavern in the rock,' that will be their troubled refuge for the next four chapters."
[...:]
"Thus does Cooper explain the geology that has created the island, its caves, and the rapids and falls that surround it."
[...:]
"Living, as you do, near one natural wonder that so impressed James Fenimore Cooper, I hope you may turn to The Last of the Mohicans -- written in response to his visit here back in 1824 -- and find it worthy of reading as more than just an adventure for boys. Like James Fenimore Cooper's many other stories, it conveys ideas of importance to Americans in the 21st century. At least, I have tried to demonstrate that proposition."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FROM: "The Book that Made Glens Falls Famous: An Introduction to James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans"
by Hugh C. MacDougall (James Fenimore Cooper Society)
(Talk given to the Warren County Historical Society, Glens Falls, New York, on October 11, 2000, to help inaugurate "Cooper's Cave Days")

See entire article at:
> http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/ar...



message 3: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments My husband and I visited what is now known around Glens Falls as "Cooper's Caves". I'm so glad we did because the above information now becomes so much more meaningful to us.

To see more about Cooper's Caves and how to get there, see:
http://www.sgfny.com/Coopers-Cave.htm


message 4: by Werner (new)

Werner I read The Last of the Mohicans as a kid, and really liked it. But as a pre-adolescent, I totally failed to pick up on the theme of inter-racial romance in the book. Now I'm hoping to read it again sometime, with the perspective of 40-some more years of maturity, and see what I get out of it as an adult!


message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Hi Werner. Welcome to the group.
That's an interesting comment.

I found the following at Sparknotes:
(contains spoilers)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Interracial Love and Friendship

"The Last of the Mohicans is a novel about race and the difficulty of overcoming racial divides. Cooper suggests that interracial mingling is both desirable and dangerous. Cooper lauds the genuine and longtime friendship between Hawkeye, a white man, and Chingachgook, a Mohican Indian. Hawkeye and Chingachgook's shared communion with nature transcends race, enabling them to team up against Huron enemies and to save white military leaders like Heyward.
On the other hand, though, Cooper shows his conviction that interracial romances are doomed and undesirable. The interracial love of Uncas and Cora ends in tragedy, and the forced interracial relationship between Cora and Magua is portrayed as unnatural. Through Cora, Cooper suggests that interracial desire can be inherited; Cora desires Indian men because her mother was part black."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Above was from: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/mohican...

That was interesting!


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Joy. I'd have to re-read the novel before I could form an opinion about whether the Sparknotes comment accurately assesses Cooper's attitude. In the literature of the Romantic school, love often "ends in tragedy" whether it's interracial or not (simply because tragedy evokes the intense emotional reader reactions that Romanticism strives for); and the typical Romantic villain often seeks a forcible relationship with the heroine that's viewed with disapproval whether he's of the same race or not.


message 7: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Good point, Werner. When I was a teenager, I read _Vanity Fair_ by William Makepeace Thackeray. I remember being broken-hearted about the unrequited love in that story. I've never forgotten it, even though I don't remember a thing about the plot. Yes, the book evoked the "intense emotional" reaction you mentioned.

The Goodreads book description of _Vanity Fair_ says: "The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure."

I guess it was Dobbin who suffered from his unrequited love for Amelia in the story. Yes, pathos is the word! Hmmm, I've always thought it was Becky he was crazy about. Can't really remember.


message 8: by Werner (new)

Werner No, in Vanity Fair, it definitely was Amelia that Dobbin carried a torch for all those years. (And when he finally married her, he found that she wasn't nearly as fulfilling a life partner as he'd thought she'd be!) That story, too, does evoke a lot of emotion --though technically, Thackeray was a Realist rather than a Romantic, as was Jane Austen. (You could say that they were Realists before Realism was cool.) But Realists don't always avoid appealing to emotion (just as Romantics don't necessarily reject realistic detail) --it just isn't their central goal, like it is for the Romantics.


message 9: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Thanks for explaining, Werner. I enjoy learning about the categorization of books and literature. Thinking about categories helps us to see works from different perspectives, gives us new insights, and thereby expands our knowledge of literature.


message 10: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments PS-Is there a good website which explains the periods of literature and their related authors, e.g., Romantics, Realists?


message 11: by Werner (last edited Jan 20, 2009 09:32AM) (new)

Werner Joy, there probably is such a website, but other group members could probably point you to one better than I can --I just don't spend much time surfing the Net. (When I'm online, I'm usually on Goodreads! :-)) You might try Wikipedia.

I actually got my information from textbooks on American and British literature. My wife and I home-schooled our girls for several years, and I was the literature teacher.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 4948 comments http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_...
might be a good place to start. Lots of hyperlinks to take you to various interesting articles.


message 13: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 20, 2009 12:29PM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Werner, the process of teaching certainly cements the knowledge in our heads. I envy teachers of literature because, after many years of teaching, they must know field so well.

Jim, Thanks for the link. I've bookmarked it. Yes, Wiki is the first place I go for a lot of things. They say that sometimes the info there isn't dependable, but despite that, I find it helpful... if only for the links! LOL


message 14: by Werner (last edited Jul 15, 2012 02:20PM) (new)

Werner Well, after over three years, I've finally made good my promise to reread this novel; if anyone's interested, my review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... . I got more out of it, in terms of picking up on the hints of romantic attraction and the race relations theme, than I did as a seven-year-old!

IMO, the Sparknotes author is mistaken in suggesting that Cooper's attitude clearly is that interracial marriage is undesirable --though he does recognize that there are obstacles against it because of the racial prejudices of the time. Col. Munro's first marriage, to a lady with some Negro blood, was a happy one. Their child, Cora, is clearly viewed by Cooper as the more capable, strong, and emotionally mature, and the better catch romantically, than her "infantile" (though sweet and kind) half-sister Alice. (view spoiler)


message 15: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jul 15, 2012 05:04AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Werner, you certainly made an interesting study of the book. I watched the 1971 film version this week. (Masterpiece Theatre: The Last of the Mohicans) Since I had never read the book, I was happy to finally find out exactly what the plot entailed. Over the years I've heard the characters' names but never knew exactly what roles they played. So at least I've expanded my horizons in that respect.


message 16: by Werner (new)

Werner Joy, glad I was able to recommend something you found horizon-expanding! I can relate to your feeling of satisfaction in becoming more culturally literate; I feel the same way when I read or watch a (faithful) movie version of a classic I haven't experienced before.


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner For anyone thinking about reading the book, a comment today by another of my Goodreads friends reminded me that I probably should post a warning: the passage that touches on the massacre (which really happened) following the fall of Fort William Henry is NOT for the squeamish. It has an image of violence that's very graphic and disturbing.


message 18: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jul 16, 2012 05:52AM) (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Werner, there was quite a bit of violence during the massacres in the movie too. Seeing those scenes was a reminder of the actual hardships so many people on both sides suffered at that time.

The purpose of the taking of scalps was explained (during the dialogue in the film) as a custom to benefit the spirits of the dead people, or something to that effect (I can't remember exactly). However Wiki tells it differently:
================================================
"Scalping is the act of removing the scalp, or a portion of the scalp, either from a dead body or another living person. The initial purpose was to provide a trophy of battle or portable proof of a combatant's prowess in war. Eventually, the act became motivated primarily for financial reasons; payment received per scalp acquired."
FROM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalping
==============================================


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner Joy, I'd say the Wikipedia article is more accurate; it agrees with everything I've ever encountered in my study of history, whereas I've never heard of any supposed benefit to the victim's spirit from being scalped. The latter theory sounds suspiciously like a typical exercise in Hollywood "political correctness:" if an embarrassing fact is too much common knowledge to ignore, try to whitewash it by giving it a new and nicer interpretation (made up, if necessary).

Ironically, as Wikipedia suggests but doesn't directly say, the prevalence of scalping among the Eastern Indians was vastly increased by the bounties both the French and the English paid for each other's scalps (and later that the British paid for American scalps). What had been a matter of trophy-taking became a pretty serious big business with significant profits.


message 20: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (JoyofGlensFalls) | 14263 comments Werner, I think you're right about the "white-washing". As we look back through history it seems that the barbarian gene has always been with us. It boils down to to cruelty for the sake of acquiring territory.

On the humorous side, comedian Eddie Izzard does a bit about acquiring territory. See it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEx5G-...
(It's less than a minute long, but it's funny.)


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Glens Falls (NY) Online Book Discussion Group

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The Last of the Mohicans (other topics)
Vanity Fair (other topics)

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William Makepeace Thackeray (other topics)