Mark Twain: A Collection of Critical Essays

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain.

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Mark Twain - Biography and Works

In 1897, Maulsby defended Cooper's characters, singling out Natty Bumppo, a figure hardly mentioned in Twain's attack. Cooper's hero, according to Maulsby, represented a "man, who is confessedly the creation of romance, yet whose life is more real to thousands than is many an historic character.... Nor are touches lacking in the minor characters to attest the author's adherence to the broad lines of nature." By asserting that Natty seems real, even though he is the hero of a romance, and that Cooper's portrayal of characters is truthful, Maulsby shows his awareness of the animosity of the Realists towards the writers of romance. But as Krause suggests, Twain's intent was not merely to defend Realism against romance; his purpose, rather, was to declare an unequivocal winner in the battle. While a Realist like Howells would take arms and "bang the babes of romance about" in critical essays, Twain's weapons were satire and ridicule. Attacking the unrelieved solemnity of characters in sentimental fiction, his irreverence also chipped away at the secure solidity of a literary canon into which, Twain feared, Cooper was being ensconced by the likes of Brander Matthews.

Literary Criticism: An Overview of ..

"The Restructuring of History and the Intrusion of Fantasy in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." In Forms and Functions of History in American Literature: Essays in Honor of Ursula Brumm.

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Though some writers, from D. F. Hannigan and D. L. Maulsby in the 1890s to Sacvan Bercovitch and Sidney I. Krause in the present, have questioned the fairness of Twain's attack on his predecessor, many casual readers have accepted Twain's hilarious spoof of The Deerslayer (along with The Pathfinder and The Last of the Mohicans) as an essentially just assessment of Cooper's typical plots, characterization, and diction. Even Brander Matthews, whose praise of Cooper was one cause of Twain's diatribe, mentioned Twain's piece and described Cooper's style as at times "slovenly" in his introduction to Crowell's edition of The Leather-Stocking Tales. Typical of serious critics who offer faint praise conditioned by an acceptance of Twain's judgment is Stanley Williams, writing in The Literary History of the United States: "Despite his 'literary offenses,' as Mark Twain called them, Cooper stands with Dumas and Scott as one of the great romancers of all time." Not only has Twain's Cooper bedeviled the real Cooper as one of Twain's extraordinary twins plagued the other, but Twain's Cooper has threatened to replace completely the author who had died over forty years earlier. One of the present authors recalls spending more time in a year-long survey of American literature on Twain's 1895 attack than on any of Cooper's own prose. While Cooper wrote thirty-two longish novels as well as a dozen major volumes of social criticism, excerpts of a length suitable for anthologies can be pried out of them with difficulty. Consequently, Twain's brief spoof substitutes for Cooper with a frequency that Twain, with his penchant for impostors, would love.

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The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County study guide contains a biography of Mark Twain, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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"Mark Twain's Ambivalence Toward Progress: A Study of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." The Journal of English and Literature 36.4 (1990): 643-57.

Kiskis, Michael J.

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Our purpose here has been to disentangle the authentic text of The Deerslayer from the legends surrounding it, the misperceptions having accrued over decades because of Twain's hilarious essay and having contributed to a critical tradition that often damns Cooper with the faintest of praise. An almost immediate response to Twain's attack ensued, as is evident from the well-meaning essays of Maulsby and Hannigan. These well-intentioned and generally accurate defenses notwithstanding, Twain's humor won the day, and his brassy exaggerations and explosive irreverence led to a tradition of evaluating Cooper by citing his "offenses," an assessment inattentive to Cooper's actual plots, his character portrayals, and his textual modifications. Fortified by the assumptions of Realism, Twain's assault on the Romantic house of fiction took dead aim at these supposed defects in plot, characterization, and style. If Cooper's fictional edifice has weathered the storm, it is largely the result of his excellence in these three categories that Twain so gleefully dismissed, a consequence of some readers following Cooper's narrative rather than Twain's partial and distorted version of it. It is, nevertheless, a tribute to Twain that his comic masterpiece has more than survived, but flourished, often obscuring the legitimate features of its object of attack. "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" has survived, for its willful fabrications, hilarious exaggerations, and satirical intent aside, the rest of the essay, if we may borrow Twain's phrasing, is art.