Under the editorship of mencken, the periodical fast gained a reputation for the vitriolic articles he directed. Mencken and george jean nathan year founded1924 final issue1981 countryunited states based innew york city issn0002998x the american mercury was an american magazine published from 1924 to 1981. In september 1927, mencken wrote in american mercury, i believe in liberty. Behind only the king james bible, shakespeare, and twain, comes mencken as a quotable source on subjects including but far from limited to diet and exercise. The older i grow, the more i distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. Who austrian neurologist who originated psychoanalysis what said that human behavior is irrational. Mencken turned up to write his column with blaring trumpet, ready to outrage. Mencken was perhaps americas most outspoken defender of liberty in the first half of the 20th century. Aug 01, 20 free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by project gutenberg. A contribution toward the interpretation of the national mind new york. Henry louis mencken september 12, 1880 january 29, 1956 was an american journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of american english. Mencken 1926 americanism, a term first used by john witherspoon, president of princeton university, in 1781, designates a any word or combination of words which read now american mercury features.
Under the editorship of mencken, the periodical fast gained a. Mencken s editorship of the american mercury, and this fortunate state of affairs is partly the result of efforts by h. It contained an ad for a book deemed obscene and an essay proposing a new view of sex as purely a pastime for leisure hours. The renowned baltimore journalist who said that national political conventions and politicians were for connoisseurs of the obscene would have never. Mencken s book the american language revealed him to be an authority on the american language, and his essays and articles made him a popular advocate for free press and the first amendment. The first i ever heard of hl mencken was when i read his obit with a pic of his moon face with a stubby cigar in the middle of his mouth and the worst haircut i ever saw parted in the middle. Mencken has 241 books on goodreads with 119065 ratings.
American mercury, monthly literary magazine known for its often satiric commentary on american life, politics, and customs. He championed the plays of henrik ibsen, george bernard shaw, and eugene oneill, among others. The smart set was an american literary magazine, founded by colonel william dalton mann and published from march 1900 to june 1930. The american mercury was an influential journal of opinion and literature that debuted in january 1924 and gained a wide audience under the editorial control of its. Mencken would skewer hillary clinton and donald trump.
Mencken collection ms0001 4 box 1 two typed letters signed and addressed to gentlemen. At the height of his career, he edited and wrote for the american mercury magazine and the baltimore sun newspaper, wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column for the chicago tribune, and published two or three books every year. The most authoritative work on this subject is charles scruggs book, the sage in harlem a survey of menckens influence on and support of africanamerican intellectuals. A photograph of leo frank, as published in the frank case the american mercury now presents the second part of three parts of our audio version. At the same time, he became a serious scholar of the vagaries of american english. In april, 1926 mencken was arrested for selling issues of his magazine the american mercury on the boston commons. Mencken and the american mercury adventure singleton, marvin kenneth on.
Mencken was perennially looking over his shoulder in preparing issues of the smart set, which under his tenure had gained the reputation of a ribald and even, on occasion, a somewhat risque magazine. The april 1926 issue of the american mercury was irresistible to the watch and ward society. Having emigrated from germany during the midnineteenth. Wherever the hookworm bays to its mate and a horsehair put into a bottle of water is known to turn into a snake, it is preached every night. The magazine featured writing by some of the most important writers in the united states through the 1920s and 1930s. Mencken and george jean nathan, the smart set offered many upandcoming authors their start and gave them access to a relatively large audience.
For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. It is a book of creative criticism in a sense unusual in american letters. The american habit of reducing complex concepts to the starkest abbreviations is not merely a pursuit of charlatansits an ars poetica for mencken himself. Knopf, 1920, also by george jean nathan gutenberg text and page images. With a story, poor little black fellow, by langston hughes and a piece about his boyhood by james m. Mencken, in full henry louis mencken, born september 12, 1880, baltimore, maryland, u. Jul 21, 2017 hl menchen the plain folks will reach their hearts content at last, and the white house will be adorned by a downright moron. The cover of the book on which our new audio book is based the american mercury is proud to present the. They come mostly from booksthe six installments of the prejudices series, a book of burlesques, in defense of women, notes on democracy, making a president, a book of calumny, treatise on right and wrongbut there are also magazine and newspaper pieces that never.
My life as author and editor covered menckens smart set period during the flapper era, the beginnings of his work with george jean nathan and alfred knopf which later gave birth to the american mercury, and his early relationships with theodore dreiser, sherwood anderson, sinclair lewis, f. They come mostly from booksthe six installments of the prejudices series, a book of burlesques, in defense of women, notes on democracy, making a president, a book of calumny, treatise on right and wrongbut there are also magazine and newspaper pieces that never got between covers from the american. The watch and ward society was particularly offended by a short story depicting a prostitute who serviced her catholic clients. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians and contemporary movements. Mencken attended a baltimore private school and the baltimore polytechnic. Study 51 terms apush chapter 31 flashcards quizlet. Publication date 1919 topics american literature, american essays publisher. Menckens most enduring contribution to american literature may be his autobiographical writings, most of which first appeared in the new yorker. He skips very lightly indeed over the surface of menckens literary criticism where, according to kempton, we find the best mencken, the first american critic to win the respect of joseph conrad. But after enduring the heavy weather of these two library of american volumesa gathering. In the early part of the 20th century, america needed mencken. The six volumes of prejudices, published between 1919 and 1927, were both a slashing attack on what mencken saw as american provincialism and hypocrisy and a resounding defense of the.
Now our students can consult the articles without wearing kid gloves. Most of these quotes are selected from minority report, h. Having emigrated from germany during the midnineteenth century, the menckens and abhaus had quickly adapted to life in the united states, and they provided a home more. As a journalist, he gained national prominence through his newspaper columns describing the nowfamous 1925 scopes trial, which pitted fundamentalists against a public school teacher who dared to teach evolution. Menckens editorship of the american mercury, and this fortunate state of affairs is partly the result of efforts by h. Knopf, 1920, also by george jean nathan gutenberg text. But where in all the world is there a man who worships jupiter today.
John reed idealist converted to socialism, saw great hope in russian rev, but disillusioned by new regimes authoritarianism. Menckens political views were close to what might be called jeffersonian classical liberalism or, in todays language, libertarianism, although he had less confidence in the wisdom of the ordinary citizen than jefferson did. The american mercury american mercury with al hirschfelds caricature of ernest hemingway, november 1950 frequencymonthly founderh. Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by project gutenberg. Mencken 18801956 american newspaperman, editor, writer. Without that meanness, though, his writing might never have gotten so startlingly good. Mencken the trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of ones time defending scoundrels. These have numbers in square brackets corresponding to the numbers in the book. Mencken, as the editor and main creative force behind the american mercury magazine, was responsible for publishing more black authors than any other publication of its. What he sets forth so wrathfully was already known to me before i read his book, and i had got used to it. Joshi free inquiry februarymarch 2004 volume 24, number 2 the passion according to henry the pith and purity of his prejudices, the grit and grace of his language, the dazzle and buck of. Mencken, reconstruction, the american mercury, ulysses s. Mencken and the american mercury adventure by singleton, m.
Menckens most popular book is a mencken chrestomathy. The american mercury was an american magazine published from 1924 to 1981. Mencken henry louis mencken 18801956 is an historical american writer the world my view of the above great city, i find, shifts and varies from time to time. Hl menchen the plain folks will reach their hearts content at last, and the white house will be adorned by a downright moron. There was a time when jupiter was the king of the gods, and any man who doubted his puissance was ipso facto a barbarian and an ignoramus. Henry louis, 18801956 online books about this author are available, as is a wikipedia article. As i commented at the time, mencken was publishing black writers in his american mercury at a time when the press club was as segregated as the alabama legislature.
Mencken was unquestionably the most provocative and influential journalist and cultural critic in twentiethcentury america. He had a core meanness that showed itself in his writing and in his personal life. And a major theme of his writings was that every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. The magazine featured writing by some of the most important writers in the united. You protest, and with justice, each time hitler jails an opponent. In a letter to upton sinclair published in the american mercury in june 1936, mencken described hitler in the following terms. Read, highlight, and take notes, across web, tablet, and phone. His arrest on obscenity charges posted on 20 april, 2010 by ann hendon this recent piece from the bibliophile web site describes the famous hatrack case in which the mercury was literally banned in boston, and its editor arrested on obscenity charges see menckens recollections below. H l mencken american mercury adventure, first edition abebooks. Now the library of america edition brings these works back to life. Lots of people need lots of things to do what they do. Edited by marion elizabeth rodgers it took me nearly a dozen years of rummaging through used bookstores in numerous states to find all six of the original prejudices volumes. American libraries canadian libraries universal library community texts project gutenberg biodiversity heritage library childrens library.
A person who purchased a banned book risked prosecution for violating the states obscenity laws. In the united states, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. Though best known for his caustic newspaper columns, h. There is a superabundance of material for a documented account of h. George jean nathan, american author, editor, and drama critic, who is credited with raising the standards of play producers and playgoers alike. He is, as usual, on the wrong track, and pursuing a chimera. Mencken 1922 all the while i have been forgetting the third of my reasons for remaining so faithful a citizen of the federation, despite all the lascivious inducements from expatriates to follow them beyond the seas, and all the surly suggestions from patriots that i succumb. It includes the essays one would count as the best of mencken. H l mencken american mercury adventure, first edition. During its jazz age heyday under the editorship of h. I realized then i had to read him, and a few days later i found the vintage mencken in a campus bookstore. The american mercury, 1928 the dreadful title of this book is not the least posted in vintage mencken tagged civil war, confederacy, h. Mar 31, 2015 as i commented at the time, mencken was publishing black writers in his american mercury at a time when the press club was as segregated as the alabama legislature.491 180 160 190 317 1082 1587 953 824 1113 398 227 1593 1430 1488 1387 262 544 825 42 869 1432 1031 468 393 531 731 1366 1269 1056 117 915 84