The Deerslayer J F Cooper Spoilers

I’m about a quarter of the way through. They have opened the “chist”. Judith is trying on clothes, Natty and Chingangook are firing pistols while Natty makes racial slurs about his best friend. Presumably the Indians on shore are giggling while they peel the skin off Julia’s Daddy and Boyfriend.
Please tell me it gets better.

Since The Deerslayer doesn’t have quite the “classic” reputation that Last of the Mohicans does (and see Twain, Mark for how well LotM deserves it), I’m going to guess, NO.

Might be interesting into gaining some understanding of how Americans perceived Indians and their own recent past in the pre-Civil War days.

OK, so is Mark Twain’s infamous essay tongue-in-cheek, as many claim, or is it serious?

Given the six Indians hiding in a sapling…The first jumps and lands in the boat, knocking himself unconscious; the second jumps and lands behind the boat, the third lands way behind the boat, the fourth way, way behind the boat, etc., I would say serious. :slight_smile:
I shall persevere.

I can’t imagine how it could be serious: Those traits which Twain criticized about Cooper’s writing are precisely those traits which are also shared by Twain’s own writing.

I took his essay The Damned German Language in deadly earnest while I was taking German 1300.
Shopping for peas: “I am going to buy it, I am going to cook him, I am going to eat her.”
But I digress. Perhaps “Seriously humorous” would be a good choice of words. Natty Bumpo is now fishing while the Indians negotiate about peeling the skin from the prisoners. :rolleyes:

Twain was serious, though some may find him ingenuous. He was a bestselling author. Cooper was still a very popular author, despite being crappy and dead. Ergo: Cooper was the competition and, being dead, unable to mount an effective defense. And the essay was funny, which Twain may have felt counted even more than an opportunity to rip on a competitor.

What I use to support the thesis that Twain was both serious and right is that all of the editions of Cooper I’ve seen contain provisos stating that spelling, grammar, and construction were cleaned up for “modern” tastes in the 1850s or 60s (he died in 1851). You don’t see that prefacing the works of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters.

What dialect is Natty Bumpo, AKA Leather Stocking, AKA Deer Slayer, AKA Hawkeye speaking? “Chist” for chest, “inimey” for enemy. Of course I have no idea what backwoodsmen in New York in the eighteenth century sounded like.

Ah, the plot thickens. Natty Bumpo is negotiating with the Indians for how many chessmen he will trade for his companions lives. :rolleyes:

Natty thought the chessmen found in the “chist” were religious idols.
I am at a loss for words.

For those who haven’t read it, here is the full text of Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences”. Probably the only piece of literary criticism in the English language capable of making you laugh out loud.

I have never read *The Deerslayer, *apparently because I’m too smart. When I was in high school, we were divided into three English classes, according to aptitude. The “slow” kids had to read *The Deerslayer. *Is it really such an easy read?

(Strangely, I remember *The Deerslayer, *but not the other two books.)

Perhaps the teacher thought those students would identify with Bumpo.
:slight_smile: