July 16th, 2010


A literary offense

Earlier today I saw caerwynx talking about that "Who do you write like" thing that's been making the rounds:

Shakespeare would be delighted to hear he writes like Mark Twain...

Which got me wondering who Mark Twain wrote like. A couple of years ago I posted an excerpt from Twain's Innocents Abroad as part of my Saturday poetry series, so I copied that text and pasted it into the analyzer. And here's the result I got:

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

If there was one author in recorded history to whom Twain would have wanted not to be compared to, it would almost certainly James Fenimore Cooper. Twain subjected Cooper to one of the most vicious reviews in American literary history. He described Cooper's novel The Deerslayer as "a literary delirium tremens." He said Cooper's "word-sense was singularly dull," that his "proudest creations in the way of 'situations' suffer noticeably from the absence of the observer's protecting gift," and that "in the restricted space of `two-thirds of a page, Cooper ... scored 114 offenses against literary art out of a possible 115." And so on. Suffice to say that if Twain were still alive, this comparison would have killed him.

For my own part, I fed about a dozen different samples of my own writing into the analyzer, and was compared to Stephen King, James Joyce, Dan Brown, Edgar Allen Poe, Margaret Atwood, and David Foster Wallace. I got Wallace as a result seven times, though, so I guess I'll go with that.

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