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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 44

almost a new dimension; one remembers the many deaths Natty has yet to deal. In other matters he is nearer his later self, for he starts life with a steady if simple philosophy which, through all his many adventures, keeps him to the end the son of nature he was at the beginning. Not a little of the charm of The Deerslayer arises from Cooper’s evident delight in the large, bland landscapes of the exquisite neighborhood of Cooperstown and Lake Otsego, here called Glimmerglass; in this same neighborhood Natty Bumppo had first revealed himself to his creator’s imagination nearly a score of years before.
  “If anything from the pen of the writer of these romances is at all to outlive himself,” Cooper declared, “it is, unquestionably, the series of ‘The Leather-Stocking Tales.’” The truth of this prophecy steadily increases. At present the series is accepted as the quintessence of his achievement, and Leather-Stocking by any large ballot—both national and international—would be voted the most eminent of all American characters of fiction. “The spirit of Leather-Stocking is awake,” said a French statesman in the spring of 1917, meaning that the United States had entered the World War, and by his remark surprising a good many Americans who had not realized how clearly Leather-Stocking still seems to the rest of the world a symbol of America. In Cooper’s most definite summary, Natty was “simple-minded, faithful, utterly without fear, and yet prudent, foremost in all warrantable enterprises, or what the opinion of the day considered as such.… The most surprising peculiarity about the man himself was the entire indifference with which he regarded all distinctions that did not depend on



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