‘The First Of The Mohicans’
James Fenimore Cooper’s book ‘The last of The Mohicans’ is a primary point of definition in American Literature that signaled the ‘accelerated momentum’ of a new era of fantasy and exploration (i.e.. image-logics and imaginative storytelling). The book reads as a kind of opening gate into the forming ‘new world theater’ of the 1880′s – (continental transition into transformation) as well as a ‘signial statement’ that shed insight into the underlying implications of a new political world order (i.e. the ‘fulfillment’ of the trans-European decision to evolve rational formal structures, restructual warfare technologies and extended Christianity- and from that point expanding to include ‘progressive political decisions’ to embrace composite rational perceptual models- that would result in the removal of magic and so-called pagan belief in the Renaissance period) as well as the ‘vibrational’ promise of American culture and the ’cause’ of democracy and human rights. Mr. Cooper writings give us an opportunity to better understand the genesis sentiments and pychologies that characterized the initial encounter experiences of the early European settlers and the Native American community. Those experiences would set the stage for the extended drama that has ‘become American Culture’. In his work we are given an opportunity to become one with this time period in all of its beauty and complexity- especially complexity. After all, the historical backdrop that frames this novel tells of the struggle of geo-continen-tal identities and the cauldron of forces operating in the eastern region of what has since become composite America. This is not only the stuff of American culture, this is American culture. To experience the ‘reality’ of Mr. Cooper’s book is to gain a ‘scent’ of the vibrational ‘tone level’ of early American life. The nature of that ‘reality’ encompasses the extended backdrop of the new ‘particulars’ (of the environment) as well as the evolution of a fresh set of vibrational and intellectual premises that reflected those conditions (postulates). In seeking to experience Mr. Cooper classic, we are forced to reexamine the fundamental psychological, philosophical and spiritu-al components of the American experience.
The experience of reading The Last of The Mohicans would open up six categories of ‘poetic-curiosity’ that can be used to provide an ‘aesthetic – curtain’ to penetrate into the subject of early American Literature and more important, to The evolution of the American historical novel. My interest while reading the book was drawn to 1) the formal structures of Mr. Coopers writing approach, 2) the early descriptions and subject treatment of the Native Americans characters 3) the ‘projected’ images of women 4) the restructural use of classical/documented history 5) the types of characters he employs and 6) the ‘apparent’ psychology of Mr. Cooper. In the first category, I was struck by Mr. Coopers ability to ‘paint the canvas’ of the story. Where the wonder of Elizabethan Literature establishes a moving and ‘linear’ time space, that allows for characters to move in and out of the ‘action space’ of the drama ( in a kind of sequential time-space formal unit perceptive) Mr. Cooper instead layers his vision in a way that ‘suspends normal time/flow’ (forward thrust movement) while expanding the composite visual-field dimension of his subject material. The end affect of a given ‘visualization’ (postulation) creates a powerful fantasy state that is three dimensional and mutable. Mr. Cooper knows how to build a climax while at the same time also ‘set up’ event properties that sustain interest and poetic-surprise. The ‘nature’ of a given paragraph (event) postulation would see primary and secondary image target ‘choices’ that defined the polarity-balance of Mr. Coopers story weaving ability. This is true whether one focuses on the shift in formal structure from individual character to composite backdrop scene, in every case one can sense a master architect who never forgets the importance of design and balance. The language-thrust of Mr. Coopers writings establishes an unbalanced image-perceptive that is akin to the Imambeckbatameter structurual unit in Shakespeare’s time. At his heart, Mr. Cooper wants to give his reader all of the facts that are necessary, and one can sense an ‘architectonic-mapping’ structural sense that goes about its work in ‘a deliberate kind of way’. There is a kind of exactness about his ability to ‘stretch’ the line of his prose.
In the second category Mr. Cooper takes great pains to stretch out his characters on many different levels and if it is to his credit that as a technician he is able to demonstrate real proficiesioncy in sustaining believable dialogue, on the other hand there is no real sense of ‘internal-transformation’ by the Author ( that is, ‘of the converted!’). Through out this novel, Mr. Cooper’s characters have much to say about the ‘certitude and rectitude’ of the native Americans, yet I did not leave the novel with the sense that the writer was a friend of Native American culture or not. One can sense a kind of uneasiness in his attempts to portray the Native American characters in his novels. His complexity is our national heritage!
The projected image of women in The Last of the Mohicans also gives real insight into the accelerated tendencies of the so-called enlighten period- moving into the frontier experience. This must have been an incredible time period for women and non-European people! Mr. Cooper works with the establish iconic models of his time period. He gives us a polarity model that demonstrates the ‘pure’ high European model against the ‘soiled’ fallen sister ( maybe not ‘fallen’- since in this case the only crime of the perpetrator is to be born ‘not pure Aryan European). At the same time Mr. Cooper gives us an opportunity to understand the forming psychological components of early American culture. Cooper writes of his women and their relationship to their father ( ‘ol, he’s knows them so well’!!). He writes about their virtue ( even though no one noticed that a group of men refrained from any kind of ‘disrespect’ of captives who had been kept for weeks and months). And of course, the only good woman is a women who doesn’t talk or have an opinion! What we have here in my opinion, is a writer interested in working within the conceptual and aesthetic parameters of his time period- ‘what in that time period was called the romantic novel). His women are two dimensional compared to the men. They are objects that can be used to reflect ‘men’z experience’.
In the forth category, I found Mr. Cooper’s use of backdrop historical information as powerful and creative. This is the beginning of the docu-drama restructual ‘experience’. Mr. Cooper used this device as 1) an occasion to create ‘summation’ historical information to enhance his story backdrop ‘aesthetic-nature’ 2) gave us some sense of the complexity of inter Native American inter-relationships 3) made us privy to ‘the politeness’ of the Europeans, even under the ‘hardest of times’. In the first category, Mr. Cooper writings would give a condensed backdrop of Native American history and progressionalism. Weaving his material in and out of the story, Mr. Cooper gives us an opportunity to entertain fresh historical perspectives ( which for me is fine, sense I completely disagree with the notion of history as static). In this area of his work he is called on to 1) bear witness to the actual history of encounters including the broken treaties and the pushing westwards of the Native People. I found the list of footnotes to be extremely affective and dynamic. In the second category, I was particularly interested in the internal relationships between Native Americans. The scene that described the play between father and son (i.e.. Uncas and Chingachgook) was the high point of the whole book. And off the record, I was also quite impressed by the character Magua. It must have really been something to gradually realize that the new ‘guests’ were more than a simple intruders of the moment but rather, a harbinger of transformation. The idea of ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ is the most ‘far out’ idea of all. And finally, what can be said about the wonder of civility and grace. I have seen movies about the civil war- with the solders staying in rank, marching through the madness of combat without breaking rank until the order is given. These images have always ‘blown me away’! And so to read of the ‘polite’ surrender’ of (or should we call this ‘a transfer’!) of the British to the French. I say, “hats off, chaps”.