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.

Glances at History

This is from Mark Twain’s Glances at History, part of an unfinished work about the civilization that flourished between the creation of Adam and Noah’s flood..

The introductory paragraph and the bit about Adam at the end serve as a fig leaf to allow Clemens to pretend that he’s not talking about the Philippine-American war. See for yourself how much of it still rings true 100 years later.

Continue reading “Glances at History”