Literary Precedents for The Deerslayer

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Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales have often been called the first examples of the Western, although their historic and geographic settings are different from more modern stories.

Nevertheless, they are Westerns because they combine the most attractive qualities of this genre — a fast moving story line, an exciting plot, and a natural, romantic locale. And in the novels of more recent writers such as Louis L'Amour, Larry McMurtry, and Zane Grey, the conflict is still between the frontiersmen — or their equivalent, the cowboys — and the wide open spaces of a wild country, free of the restrictions of civilization, law, and order.

Many modern Westerns replay Cooper's conflicts between natives and settlers, with the Indians the inevitable losers. In Cooper's day, the term "manifest destiny" had not yet been coined, but like his hero Deerslayer, he has few doubts about the moral right of Christian civilization, even...

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