Posted by Gayle on November 11, 1999 at 16:54:00:
In Reply to: Re: The Deerslayer - A World Without Clocks posted by Kate on November 11, 1999 at 16:20:21:
: : For those who are continuing to read through The Deerslayer in anticipation of our next scintillating melee of ideas, I started thinking about how we all enjoy transporting ourselves into the unspoiled scenery of the frontier, and it occurred to me that there is another enjoyable facet to this fantasy - this is a world entirely without clocks. There are times when the action, or inaction as the case may be, seems to drift through time and space, and I lose all sense of how much time actually elapses. Sometimes it is hard to relate to the characters, because they have so little time structure to their lives. Is this one of the things that makes it so difficult for modern readers to connect with these books - the sense of impatience with how things move along?
: : Gayle
: G'day Miss (Just helping make Violet feel at home, here),
: I really have to go along with you on this one, Gayle. This is definitely one aspect of the book that I feel completely at ease with - a world without clocks. I too felt that lack of time structure in the first three chapters but I was happy with that. As I understand it, frontiersmen would be more inclined to view time in terms of 'season' rather than hours and minutes. Their 'work' day would start with the rising of the sun and finish at it's setting, unless they were doing some 'night' hunting/trapping, whatever, but in which case, it would be the moon that would be their measure of time. Therefore, I didn't find myself at odds with Hawkeye and Hurry's seemingly lacksidaisical and unhurried progress.
: And I guess in this modern age of ideas such as travel where you 'get there before you start', and working on the move, mobile phones to 'keep you in touch at all times', etc., I find it really restful to read something with little time structure, and I have no need to be reminded of time passing. I enjoy that slow perambulation through the story - and it gives the author a chance to fill this space with little details that perhaps we might not get otherwise. Sometimes I think it is better to allow the story a little time to develop even at the risk of the story becoming 'slow', than to fill the story with relentless action but little in the way of 'background'.
: For instance, Michael Mann's LOTM is full of action but there is no doubt that the current release is lacking in some details which many of us feel we would like to have had. I think we would all agree, the very nature of 'Blockbuster' films is to make money - hence plenty of action and steamy romance. However, there are many of us that would like to know - HOW and WHENCE did Alice get those 'braids'?? Where DID Uncas get that slash across the stomach that Cora bound up for him?
: Yeah, I reckon that this 'slower to get there' pace allows more 'wanted' detail to be given to the reader. I LIKE this use of time management. But - that's just my opinion.
: Reading like crazy to get a handle on the next chapters, :0)
Dana and Kate,
I too enjoy being suspended in time where there are no requirements except to observe and appreciate and think about things. Cooper being a writer who is always awash in nostalgia, I tend to spend time considering "What was he really thinking about here?" There is an interesting irony in his books in that he usually dashed off the stories in his very limited spare time and never reread or edited what he had written, which seems strange with a man whose books present such a sense of fluid suspension in time with no pressures to get anywhere or do anything that didn't relate to avoiding the scalping knife.
What I am leading up to here is that he tended to write more subconsciously than consciously. On the surface he was telling a pretty straightforward story, but all sorts of thoughts and connections of details occur throughout the five books that indicate to me he was writing on one level and CREATING on another.
Thus we come to the clock, which as Dana pointed out, was running slow; the constant reference (and I am getting ahead of you all here, but just be aware of it as you read) to the telescope, which makes things appear closer or farther away depending on how you look at it; the constant blending together of the past with the present i.e., the mysterious history of the Hutters, Natty's vague discomfort with memories of his youth and family and the very pointed mirror images of the Hutter family members and Natty and his family.
Now think about the piece I posted by Susan Fenimore Cooper related to Natty's early life and particularly, the reference to his sister, whom he left to be raised with his aunt. What happened to that sister? What is it that Cooper is feeling that causes him to constantly spill the past and the present into each other?
Cooper died before he could write the additional Leatherstocking Tale he was thinking about, and I think he was planting the seeds for that book in "The Deerslayer". So what I am really asking you to do here is surmise with me about what made Natty the person he was.
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