The Deerslayer, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


The Deerslayer is the culmination of James Fenimore Cooper's 'Leather-Stocking' novels, featuring Natty Bumppo (the deer-slaying young frontiersman) and the Mohican chief, Chingachgook.

Cooper portrays the hubris of the conquest of a vast territory.

The action takes place during the American wars of the 1740s.

Natty and his friend Harry attempt to save a trapper and two young women, whose floating fort on Lake Glimmerglass is besieged by the ruthless Iroquois. The tension steadily increases to the point at which a cruel outcome seems inevitable.

The exciting action, the romantic potentialities and the knowledgeable evocation of frontier life (with its moral and racial conflicts) have made this novel a perennial favourite.

The courageous Natty, with his problematic values, has set the precedent for countless American heroes. Culturally, The Deerslayer has proved to be a powerfully influential work.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9781853265525


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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 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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