Irvin S. Cobb Criticism - Essay

Pendennis (essay date 1917)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "My Types—Irvin S. Cobb," in The Forum, Vol. 58, October, 1917, pp. 471-86.

[In the following essay, Pendennis interviews Cobb, discussing with him the inspiration for his characters. ]

Looking like Cyrano de Bergerac, in white flannels; hovering like a lazy bumble-bee over the honey-pots of literature, on a dreamy morning in August, Cobb prolonged his reputation for being the best newspaper man in the country.

Cyrano de Bergerac, as you remember, was a poet with a gift for wit in seeing life and a gallantry for believing well of his fellow-men. He should have been a Southerner. There was in him that slumbering soul of the rebel, slow to be...

(The entire section is 3669 words.)

H. L. Mencken (essay date 1919)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Heir of Mark Twain," in Prejudices: First Series, Alfred A. Knopf, 1919, pp. 97-104.

[In the following essay, Mencken finds Cobb's work "superficial and inconsequential. "]

Nothing could be stranger than the current celebrity of Irvin S. Cobb, an author of whom almost as much is heard as if he were a new Thackeray or Molière. One is solemnly told by various extravagant partisans, some of them not otherwise insane, that he is at once the successor to Mark Twain and the heir of Edgar Allan Poe. One hears of public dinners given in devotion to his genius, of public presentations, of learned degrees conferred upon him by universities, of other extraordinary...

(The entire section is 1658 words.)

Grant Overton (essay date 1922)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Cobb's Fourth Dimension," in When Winter Comes to Main Street, George H. Doran Company, 1922, pp. 166-86.

[In the following essay, Overton provides an overview of Cobb's work.]


A three-dimensional writer, Irvin S. Cobb has long been among the American literary heavy-weights. Now that he has acquired a fourth dimension, the time has come for a new measurement of his excellences as an author.

Among those excellences I know a man (responsible for the manufacture of Doran books) who holds that Cobb is the greatest living American author. The reason for this is severely logical, to wit: Irvin Cobb always sends in his...

(The entire section is 4016 words.)

Thomas L. Masson (essay date 1931)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Irvin Cobb," in Our American Humorists, Books for Libraries Press, Inc., 1931, pp. 91-103.

[In the following essay, Masson praises Cobb's work and solicits from Cobb an overview of his career.]

Irvin Cobb has written things about himself, I was about to add, "in a quite impersonal way," when I remembered that he had written about his being fat and had referred to the fact that he was homely, whereas he is nothing of the sort. Also, other people have written about him, but neither he, nor anyone else, has ever done him justice, not even Bob Davis, or Grant Overton.

Cobb is wrong about himself and others are wrong about him. I am the only one...

(The entire section is 3867 words.)

Fred G. Neuman (essay date 1938)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Style and Manner," in Irvin S. Cobb: His Life and Letters, Rodale Press, 1938, pp. 183-99.

[In the following essay, Neuman outlines Cobb's methods of writing.]

Those who look upon the writing profession as an easy thing meet with little encouragement from Irvin S. Cobb. The famous scribe once said that he could write "a million words about a pin," but he did not indicate it would be an easy undertaking. Some persons gather from the remark that the only requirements for literary work are pencil and paper. He says it is a toilsome business and must be learned like any other profession.

"You would not expect to become a lawyer, a doctor or a...

(The entire section is 4431 words.)

Robert van Gelder (essay date 1941)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Last Autobiography," in The New York Times Book Review, March 10, 1941, p. 4.

[In the following essay, van Gelder reviews Exit Laughing, finding it entertaining, but ultimately unsatisfying.]

Irvin S. Cobb learned his trade in a rugged school where facility in writing was the reward for energy and vanity, and where politeness was the price of safety. He has, of course, been writing autobiography for years. A strong instinct for self-preservation early taught him to believe that the humor that picks on what is ridiculous in other white men is a spurious brand. The proper study for the genuine droll, he considers, is that droll himself, and as Mr....

(The entire section is 1146 words.)

William Allen White (essay date 1941)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Humor of the Self-Kidder," in Saturday Review of Literature, Vol. XXIII, No. 22, March 22, 1941, p. 5.

[In the following essay, White praises Exit Laughing as a peculiarly American autobiography.]

This book [Exit Laughing] is only incidentally the "life story" of Irvin S. Cobb. It is an adventure in humorous American humor. Taking it by and large, the humor in Irvin Cobb's autobiography, which bubbles like eternal Pierian springs on every page, is the humor of the selfkidder. He has a lot of stories about others, but if he laughs at a poor devil, it is only to reveal the fact that Cobb is not superior to the poor devil, but is his brother...

(The entire section is 1185 words.)

Judith D. Hoover (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Between Times: 19th Century Values in the 20th Century," in The Southern Quarterly, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, Spring, 1986, pp. 49-57.

[In the following essay, Hoover discusses Cobb's shaping values, which she views as being rooted in the American South of the nineteenth century.]

Irvin S. Cobb (1876-1944) had access to more of the media of mass culture in America than perhaps any other man of his day. He wrote two novels and more than 300 popular short stories, as well as speeches, jokes, quips, essays and opinion pieces for magazines; for more than ten years he reported daily human interest "news" for New York newspapers; he wrote screenplays and acted in films; he...

(The entire section is 3355 words.)