Tag Archives | Mark Twain
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Bret Harte: object of Mark Twain’s praise and derision

Bret Harte probably deserves a higher station than the one he occupies in the pantheon of American letters. A big part of the reason he doesn’t have it lies with his one-time friend, Mark Twain. Twain had known Harte from their days in the West when Harte achieved national fame in writing about the tall […]

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The father of modern caricature, bitterness among literary lights, and a view of personal technology: newsletter, Nov. 30, 2018

This newsletter was sent to all of the subscribers on Jim’s list (2,984) on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.     The theme of writing — good writing, I hope — permeates all of my newsletters, but this week you may notice another: caricature. I have tried this art form from time to time with varying degrees […]

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The purpose of great literature: to make people comfortable

That’s what school officials in Duluth, Minnesota (and a few other places, unfortunately) would have you believe. The school system in Duluth is the latest to remove To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the required reading list for ninth graders. The reason they give: the language used in these books […]

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Literary journalism, explained

If it is to be literary journalism, the writer must be a journalist, not a fiction writer. That is, the writer cannot make anything up. The facts, descriptions and quotations must be true. They must be things that happened. Sometimes, for the sake of the story, writes create “composite” scenes or characters. If they do […]

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Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses by Mark Twain

The Pathfinder and The Deerslayer stand at the head of Cooper’s novels as artistic creations. There are others of his works which contain parts as perfect as are to be found in these, and scenes even more thrilling. Not one can be compared with either of them as a finished whole.

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Mark Twain takes aim

In a famous 1895 essay, Mark Twain delivered a stinging critique of one of America’s 19th century literary icons, James Fennimore Cooper. Twain was very much a modern writer, advocating active, descriptive verbs and short rather than long words. His essay is worth reading, not necessarily for what it says about Cooper, but for what […]

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