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.


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