Natty Bumppo is a name I first encountered in John Bruner’s The Shockwave Rider where a very intelligent dog is so named. That dog at one point encounters a mountain lion named Bagheera whose name I recognized from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. It is only a long time after reading Bruner’s novel that I came across the mention of Natty Bumppo in Salman Rushdie’s Tanner Lectures (collected in Step Across This Line). The passage in the Rushdie lecture is about the American West and the name Natty Bumppo appears without explanation and one can determine from context (the name appears in the company of the name Davy Crockett) that we are dealing with a hero of some sort. And so curiosity piqued I was rewarded by a revisioning of the encounter between dog and mountain lion as between Kipling and James Fenimore Cooper, author of the novels collective known as Leatherstocking Tales. As a Canadian Wolf Cub in my youth, it is not surprising I got the reference to Kipling and perhaps excusable that the Leatherstocking reference eluded me. Obviously there’s been a gap in my education which I must mend. If not for Bruner my reading of Rushdie would not have resulted in a wee bit of research — all the more power to the checking-it-out reflex triggered by the I’ve-seen-that-before moment.
And so for day 363