The Deerslayer or the First Warpath

By James Fenimore Cooper
Edited by Lance Schachterle
Introduction by Lance Schachterle
Notes by Lance Schachterle

Subjects: Fiction
Series: The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper
Paperback : 9780873957908, 682 pages, March 1987
Hardcover : 9780873953610, 682 pages, January 1987

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



Historical Introduction

Preface [1841]

Preface to the Leather-Stocking Tales [1850]

Preface [1850]

The Deerslayer

Explanatory Notes

Textual Commentary

Note on the Manuscript

Textual Notes


Rejected Readings



Written during a nostalgic interval during Cooper's stormy battles with the Whig Press, The Deerslayer (1841) is the last of the world-famous Leatherstocking Tales in point of composition, though first in the biographical sequence. Employing physical adventure and violence in a mythopoetic setting drawn largely from his own youthful experience, Cooper evokes the stages of Natty's initiation as a subtly allegorical medium for instilling permanent values, values he thought should pervade the conduct of the American press and all segments of American society. According to Edmund Wilson, this book—which D. H. Lawrence called "the loveliest and best" of the Leatherstocking series—contains description which "owes its power, like Melville's description of the Pacific or one of Poe's pieces on landscape gardening, to an emotional content which has charged the object and transformed it into a symbol. And the action has a reality which we recognize and accept as we read: the reality of a dream full of danger." — The Shock of Recognition