Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”


Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” is a particularly effective satire due to its position of power. Twain was a realist and there is nothing more devastating to a romantic than a little dose of reality. While the analysis is to the point, I am not convinced it is entirely fair. Romantic writers like Sir Walter Scott and Fenimore Cooper and Romantic poets like William Wordsworth and Emily Dickinson (whom Twain also satirizes in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”) have chosen to write in a romantic style. This romantic portrayal of society and life is clearly unrealistic, the same way that a fable is unrealistic. Thus attacking Romanticism on the basis that it is not realistic enough seems to me to be the same thing as attacking a boat on the basis that it cannot drive on a highway. Since a boat is not a car, it should not be expected to fill the same requirements as a car. Thus, Twain’s position, however funny, is unfair at best and foolish at worst.

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