Chapter

New Ideas of Race: The Last of the Mohicans

Fiona J. Stafford

in The Last of the Race

Published in print June 1994 | ISBN: 9780198112228
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670718 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112228.003.0010
New Ideas of Race: The Last of the Mohicans

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James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans (1826), is an important expression of the myth of the last of the race not merely for its popularity or influence, but because it was the first novel to illustrate the modern concept of race as a divisive issue. The extinction of the Mohicans was conveyed in the novel as a consequence of white settlement; Cooper was expecting a new scientific theory that would greatly impact on nineteenth-century thought: uniformitarianism. In the novel, there is no Apocalypse, since only one race ends; there is also no suggestion of redemption in the ending or the last becoming the first. The Last of the Mohicans was also the first novel to tackle the modern tragedy of extinction, and the emergence and subsequent popularity of a new collective experience is manifested by the its immediate success.

Keywords: James Fenimore Cooper; race; Mohicans; uniformitarianism; extinction

Chapter.  14455 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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