Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences

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    Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses
    Written by: Mark Twain
    Central Theme: Why James Fenimore Cooper was, in Mark Twain's opinion, a bad writer.
    Synopsis: An essay where Twain points out the innacuracy, inconsistencies, and several writing and characterization failures he found on Fenimore Cooper's novels.
    Genre(s): Essay
    First published: 1895
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    Source: Read Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences here
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    "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences" is an 1895 essay by Mark Twain, written as a satire and criticism of the writings of James Fenimore Cooper, such as works from The Leatherstocking Tales.

    Twain, in a bitingly funny way, uses the essay to point and mock (but specially mock) every failure he perceived in Cooper's writing, which include, but are not limited to, poor pacing, overblown style, flat characterization, Plot Holes galore, excessive clichés, and profound ignorance of the themes represented. Twain used to work as a steamboat pilot before turning into literature, so Cooper's shallow understanding (by his standards) in sailing, navigation, and dealing with nature irritates him as much as the incredibly bad way those are written about. He also mocks the Marty Stu nature of the protagonist of the Deerslayer novel, in what could be considered a proto-sporking.

    The full essay can be read in the Source tab above; please Blue Shift it as much as possible.

    For the little-known Part II, see Fenimore Cooper's Further Literary Offences: Cooper's Prose Style. (1895) (PDF, 6 pg). It explains the 114 offenses that, according to Twain, Cooper inflicted on the literary art with his writings, a point that wasn't explored in the original essay.

    For an opposite opinion, see Fenimore Cooper's Literary Defenses.

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