I found a copy of Mark Twain’s essay “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” laying on the web, substantially cleaned up the HTML, and posted it to my site. It’s a hilarious piece of literary criticism, which according to at least one source (my cache) has condemned Fenimore to the literary dustbin:
Making hilarious game of the improbabilities in Cooper’s tales of arcane woodcraft, Twain’s essays about Cooper have been American classics ever since. So have Cooper’s tales, but only in the category of enjoyable hokum. After Twain got through with him, Cooper’s prestige was gone. Reading the reviews that did him in, one cannot avoid the impression that Twain would have enjoyed himself less if Cooper had been less of a klutz. Like Macaulay, Twain used someone else’s mediocrity as an opportunity to be outstanding. This is getting pretty close to malice, for all its glittering disguise as selfless duty.
Ah well. Malice can be fun to read, and in this case it certainly is.