Re: Just Questions

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Posted by Gayle on October 12, 1998 at 11:01:49:

In Reply to: Just Questions posted by Janis on October 12, 1998 at 08:48:34:

Hi, Janis!

You asked
: First, in your opinions, are the works of Cooper good literature?

Well, here you get into the realm of the unanswerable. Whether or not the works of Cooper are good literature is a matter of opinion. They are considered classic American literature, but some of us think they are very fine literature and some don't.


Again, it depends on what you want. Keep in mind that Cooper did not see history through the eyes of Hollywood, so The Leatherstocking Tales were not written for simple entertainment. They are historically, politically and culturally complicated. They are not easy reading. But if you can immerse yourself in the thinking of the 1700s, they are wonderful books.

:I read somewhere that LOTM was rambling and hard to follow (I have not read it).

LOTM the book is only the second novel in a series of five sequential stories. Taken out of context, it is a little hard to get into, because you do not understand the relationships of the characters, for one thing. If read alone, you may as well just read the massacre scene and skip the rest. The rest of the novel is long and requires attention to much detail. Not an easy read. I would say, take it up, and if it's not your cup of tea, put it back down.

: Second, I am interested in the practice of northeastern Indians in the 1700's taking English names. Was it for political or trade reasons? Was it well accepted by the majority, or did individuals get ostracized when they did this? Thanks for any opinions you might offer.

Cooper goes into this subject in The Pioneers when he talks about how Chingachgook was "Christianized" by the Moravians. He describes how English names and English educations were given to Indians fathered by military folks, traders, hunters, etc. Also, there was the reverse situation of white men and women being adopted by Indian tribes and thus carrying Indian names. I don't get the impression that Indians were ostracized over the English name business, but it made life difficult for the Indians who had conflicts between their ties to the white world and their ties to their own heritage. Whites who bore Indian names were much more likely to face suspicions as to their loyalties. Complicated subject and very interesting.


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