Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses

Long ago, in the pre-internet era, I had read a masterful indictment of Fenimore Cooper’s writing by Mark Twain. It was  titled “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”.  I am often reminded of that essay because one of the defects Twain identifies in Cooper is quite a common one:

Cooper’s word-sense was singularly dull. When a person has a poor ear for music he will flat and sharp right along without knowing it. He keeps near the tune, but is not the tune. When a person has a poor ear for words, the result is a literary flatting and sharping; you perceive what he is intending to say, but you also perceive that he does not say it. This is Cooper. He was not a word-musician. His ear was satisfied with the approximate words.

I was once again reminded of it today. I don’t want to pick up a fight, so I will not explain why, but I tracked down the essay; and I find that it is even better than I remember it to be. Here is the link.