A Classic Flame

One of the delightful things about the Internet is reading the occasional well-written flame. Flamage is a specialized subset of writing, with its own requirements; being able to write a good essay or novel is no guarantee that you can write a good flame.

But of course the genre predates the Internet. And one of the all-time classics is Mark Twain’s Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses (also at Project Gutenberg).

Here’s a sample:

The conversations in the Cooper books have a curious sound in our modern ears. To believe that such talk really ever came out of people’s mouths would be to believe that there was a time when time was of no value to a person who thought he had something to say; when it was the custom to spread a two-minute remark out to ten; when a man’s mouth was a rolling-mill, and busied itself all day long in turning four-foot pigs of thought into thirty-foot bars of conversational railroad iron by attenuation; when subjects were seldom faithfully stuck to, but the talk wandered all around and arrived nowhere; when conversations consisted mainly of irrelevancies, with here and there a relevancy, a relevancy with an embarrassed look, as not being able to explain how it got there.

Now go read the whole thing. It’s as enjoyable now as it was a hundred fifteen years ago.