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H.L. Mencken: Prejudices: The Complete Series (Library of America) Hardcover – 2 Sep 2010


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H.L. Mencken: Prejudices: The Complete Series (Library of America) + Mencken Chrestomathy (Vintage)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1408 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; Slp edition (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598530763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598530766
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 6.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 576,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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HardCover. Pub Date: 2010 Pages: 1408 in Publisher: penguin Few writers roiled the American the cultural scene like Henry Louis Mencken. Patheaking journalist. Trenchant social observer. And unidled humorist. Mencken was the most plane suddenly went and influential cultural critic of the last century. To read him today is to be plunged into an era whose culture wars were easily as ferocious as our own. in the company of a writer of boundless curiosity and vivacious frankness. In the six volumes of Prejudices published between 1919 and 1927. Mencken attacked what he felt to be American provincialism and hypocrisy. and championed writers and thinkers he saw as harbingers of a new candor and maturity. Laced with savage humor and delighting in verbal play. Mencken's prose remains a one-of-a-kind roller coaster ride over a staggering range of thematic territory: literature and jo...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Jacob Plunkdaby on 13 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You either love him or hate him........or both, depending on the subject. His highly-polished wit is beyond abrasive. It is like a clinical scalpel. Shame his 'A Bum's Christmas' wasn't included.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Mencken rocks! 3 Jan 2011
By oregonpapa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not much more can be said about Mencken that Kevin didn't cover in his review. This two volume set replaces a "selected" version that I had in my Mencken collection. I will pass the selected version along to a friend. Mencken is a true word smith in the highest order. He has a way of presenting things that has me rolling on the floor in laughter, pounding my fists on my armchair in anger and shaking my head in disbelief as he exposes tedious frauds, ignoramuses, cheap rouges, hypocrites, and other grasping, selfish, dishonest mammals that are hell-bent on robbing us of the fruit or our labors. For those who aren't familiar with Mencken, I highly recommend this set.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Too much neglected author 2 Dec 2012
By P R Munro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought these volumes for a friend and ended up reading almost all of both for myself as we passed them between us. Mencken is a writer whom I had heard mentioned regularly but took him to be more a dated source of witticism than a lasting voice to be heard with respect. These essays and pieces give a fascinating insight into the US political and literary scene in the pre-WW1period and its aftermath. Mencken should be given much more prominence as pungent observer of the society in which he lived and as an interpreter of trends and fallibilities in its governance which continue to dictate patterns of political behaviour.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Too much Gemütlichkeit is as fatal to criticism as it is to surgery or politics 4 April 2013
By H. Schneider - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. This, of course, refers to criticism.
Mencken, one of the most influential intellectuals in the US in the first half of the 20th century, was provocative, amusing and interesting. He was neither religious nor leftist, but rather full of contempt for both. He described himself as a conservative anarchist. He was pleading for resistance to the pollution of logic by emotion. On the other hand, he was given to mixing up issues badly and he wasn't such a sharp logician himself when it came to political questions.

His critical essays were collected, edited and published in 6 volumes during the 1910s/20s. The books were called Prejudices, which is a title that appeals to me. Library of America has now published the 6 Prejudices series in two of their nice black volumes. They are a delight.
As critics do, Mencken knew everything better. That's part of the fun.

Some examples.
Psychology and psychoanalysis were indistinguishable from evangelism and circus clowns.
'Emerson, on the side of ideas, has left but faint tracks behind him.'
'Sargent should have been a designer of candy box tops.'
Teddy Roosevelt was a brother in spirit of the Kaiser. 'The America that Roosevelt dreamed of was a kind of swollen Prussia.'
The lands to the South of the Potomac were void of culture and ideas.
No prostitute was ever so vile to a community as a prowling vice crusader. Prohibition will gradually empty the US of its present minority of civilized men.
If women really knew their business, they would give up cooking and focus instead on distilling and brewing. It is a rare man who would walk five blocks for a meal, but it is also a rare man who would not walk 5 blocks for a good cocktail. During prohibition, make that 5 miles.
The KKK was nothing but the secular arm of the Methodist Church.
The average American is a prude, his vices are not those of a healthy boy.
Like writing poetry, reviewing is a function of intellectual immaturity.

The main fury of the essays hits at the mediocrity of American culture. Main culprit is the predominance of the small anglosaxon mind. Creativity is mostly rooted in foreign influences and viewed suspiciously by the mobs.
As accurate as this diagnosis may be, Mencken steps from here into political dreamworlds about elitist Utopias. He shows himself as less than a realist as soon as he departs from his genuine mode of sarcasm.
I am a bit disgusted by M's bigotry towards some subjects, like jazz, or birth control, or sex education, or upward social mobility. He does drop racist comments. His antisemitism at the time of writing these essays is undeniable, though he atoned for that later when he fought for raised immigration quota for Jews trying to leave Nazi Europe.

After one of the two volumes I had enough for the time being. One day I may come back to volume 2. The antidemocratic rants are a little overwhelming and sometimes drown out the pearls.
On the other hand... Considering the gifts of democracy to America at the time of the writing, I can accept some of his issues. After all, there was President Wilson. Then President Harding. There was a world war entered under fraudulent or at least misleading propaganda. There was xenophobia under the guise of anti espionage laws. There was prohibition. There was the red scare. There was censorship. Mediocrity had established a dictatorship.
On the other hand... How his dream world of an elitocracy would have worked, he never says.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent companions 17 Aug 2011
By James D. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was largely unfamiliar with Mencken's writings until recently but I decided to take a chance on these two volumes. How lucky I am that I did! These essays are wonderful. H.L. Mencken is a writer I can enjoy without feeling he is talking down to me... intelligent and witty discourse makes his Prejudices a engaging and educational at once. Even the format is perfect... well-bound and small, but not paperback-sized. I will be enjoying these for many years to come.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A man of sharp words that still can cut 17 Sep 2011
By Schnauzerbark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being familiar with events in early 20th Century America will help in grasping the insights that Mencken delivers. His words reveal the true cynic. He is not gentle with many and he can truly wound those he reviews, literary and political and educational. Read it and laugh. Read it and weep over the loud and abrasive contemporary media personalities. Mencken would cut deeper in excising the tumors of nonsense than all the shouting and ranting and raving of our contemporary idiots. Worth reading.
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