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About the Author

H. L. Mencken 1880-1956 H. L. (Henry Louis) Mencken was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 12, 1880. He considered Maryland to be his home despite his many years in New York. As a child he attended Professor Friedrich Knapp's Institute, a private school for children of German descent. He mostrar mais completed his secondary education at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, from which he graduated at the age of 16. Mencken wanted to be a writer but was obligated to work in his father's cigar factory. When his father died suddenly in 1899, Mencken immediately sought a job at the Baltimore Herald. Through he began with no experience in journalism, he quickly learned every job at the newspaper and at age 25 became its editor. Mencken went on to build himself a reputation as one of America's most brilliant writers and literary critics. His basic approach was to question everything and to accept no limits on personal freedom. He attacked organized religion, American cultural and literary standards, and every aspect of American life that he found shallow, ignorant, or false - which was almost everything. From the 1920's until his death, Mencken's sharp wit and penetrating social commentary made him one of the most highly regarded - and fiercely hated - of American social critics. He was later memorialized in the dramatic portrait of the cynical journalist in the play and film Inherit the Wind. Shortly after World War I, Mencken began a project that was to fascinate him for the rest of his life: a study of American language and how it had evolved from British English. In 1919 he published The American Language: A Preliminary Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States. To this and his publisher's surprise, the book sold out quickly; its wit and nonscholarly approach attracted many readers who would not normally buy a book on such a subject. In 1936, a revised and enlarged edition was published, and in 1945 and 1948, supplements were added. The work shows not only how American English differs from British English but how the 300 year American experience shaped American dialect. Thus the book, still considered a classic in its field, is both a linguistic and social history of the United States. Mencken died in his sleep on January 29, 1956. He was interred in Baltimore's Loudon Park Cemetery. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos


Obras por H. L. Mencken

The Vintage Mencken (1955) — Autor — 666 exemplares
In Defense of Women (1918) 389 exemplares
Prejudices: A Selection (1958) 270 exemplares
Treatise on the Gods (1930) 206 exemplares
The Diary of H.L. Mencken (1989) 158 exemplares
Notes on Democracy (2007) 144 exemplares
My Life As Author And Editor (1993) 137 exemplares
The Impossible H. L. Mencken (1991) — Autor — 128 exemplares
The American Scene: A Reader (1965) 115 exemplares
The Days Trilogy, Expanded Edition (2014) 107 exemplares
A Second Mencken Chrestomathy (1995) 100 exemplares
Minority Report (1955) 95 exemplares
A Carnival of Buncombe (1956) 88 exemplares
A Choice of Days (1980) 88 exemplares
The Days of H.L. Mencken (1947) 80 exemplares
Newspaper Days: 1899-1906 (1758) 76 exemplares
H.L. Mencken on Religion (2002) 75 exemplares
Happy Days: 1880-1892 (1940) 68 exemplares
Heathen Days: 1890-1936 (1601) 58 exemplares
Prejudices: first series (1923) 47 exemplares
Damn! A Book of Calumny (1918) 44 exemplares
A Book of Prefaces (1917) 41 exemplares
A Book of Burlesques (1916) 33 exemplares
Mencken's America (2004) 28 exemplares
Letters of H.L. Mencken (1961) 27 exemplares
Selected Prejudices (1926) 26 exemplares
Christmas Story (1946) 22 exemplares
H.L. Mencken on Music (1961) 22 exemplares
Livro Dos Insultos, O (2000) 22 exemplares
The New Mencken Letters (1977) 21 exemplares
Prejudices: Third Series (1922) 17 exemplares
Prejudices: Second Series (1924) 16 exemplares
Europe After 8:15 (1914) — Co-author — 14 exemplares
Friedrich Nietzsche (1993) 14 exemplares
The Antichrist 12 exemplares
Prejudices: sixth series (1927) 11 exemplares
Treatise on Right and Wrong (1934) 11 exemplares
The Sunpapers of Baltimore (1937) 9 exemplares
Prejudices: Fourth Series (1925) 9 exemplares
Americana (1925) 8 exemplares
The Gist of Nietzche. (1910) 8 exemplares
James Branch Cabell (2011) 6 exemplares
Prejudices: Fifth Series (1926) 5 exemplares
American Mercury: Facsimile Edition of Volume I (1984) — Editor — 4 exemplares
A Little Book in C Major (2006) 4 exemplares
Notes on Democracy 4 exemplares
Americana 1926 (1926) 3 exemplares
George Bernard Shaw: His Plays (1969) 3 exemplares
Pistols for Two (2010) 3 exemplares
Ship Ahoy — Contribuidor — 3 exemplares
Partis pris (2016) 3 exemplares
Americana 1926 (1926) 2 exemplares
Gesammelte Vorurteile (2000) 2 exemplares
Making a President (1932) 2 exemplares
Mencken's Americana (2002) 2 exemplares
The rewards of virtue 2 exemplares
Supplement 1 exemplar
Book of Burlesques (1923) 1 exemplar
O diário de H. L. Mencken (1995) 1 exemplar
Seven Books (2015) 1 exemplar
Collected Poems (2009) 1 exemplar
The American Mercury, 1927 [Volume XI; Nos. 41-44] (1927) — Editor — 1 exemplar
Zur Verteidigung der Frau (2015) 1 exemplar

Associated Works

An American Tragedy (1925) — Introdução, algumas edições3,968 exemplares
The Art of the Personal Essay (1994) — Contribuidor — 1,368 exemplares
50 Great Short Stories (1952) — Contribuidor — 1,241 exemplares
The Best American Essays of the Century (2000) — Contribuidor — 772 exemplares
The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Contribuidor, algumas edições548 exemplares
Drinking, Smoking and Screwing: Great Writers on Good Times (1994) — Contribuidor — 334 exemplares
Russell Baker's Book of American Humor (1993) — Contribuidor — 206 exemplares
Literary history of the United States (1946) — Contribuidor — 190 exemplares
World War I and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It (1918) — Contribuidor — 189 exemplares
This Is My Best (1942) — Contribuidor — 186 exemplares
Atheism: A Reader (2000) — Contribuidor — 181 exemplares
The Norton Book of Personal Essays (1997) — Contribuidor — 142 exemplares
The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Work (2010) — Contribuidor — 141 exemplares
The Baseball Reader: Favorites from the Fireside Book of Baseball (1980) — Contribuidor — 102 exemplares
The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997) — Contribuidor — 98 exemplares
The Line of Love : Dizain des Mariages (1905) — Introdução, algumas edições84 exemplares
Tales of Mean Streets (1894) — Prefácio, algumas edições67 exemplares
Desert Island Decameron (1945) — Contribuidor — 56 exemplares
The Bedside Tales: A Gay Collection (1945) — Contribuidor — 45 exemplares
The Nietzsche-Wagner Correspondence (1922) — Introdução, algumas edições41 exemplares
Great Tales of Terror (2002) — Contribuidor — 39 exemplares
A Quarto of Modern Literature (1935) — Contribuidor — 39 exemplares
The World of Law, Volume II : The Law as Literature (1960) — Contribuidor — 21 exemplares
A Round-Table in Poictesme: A Symposium (1924) — Contribuidor — 21 exemplares
William Jennings Bryan and the campaign of 1896 (1953) — Contribuidor — 13 exemplares
The Best in the World (1973) — Contribuidor — 12 exemplares
British and American Essays, 1905-1956 (1959) — Contribuidor — 7 exemplares
Time to Be Young: Great Stories of the Growing Years (1945) — Contribuidor — 7 exemplares
The bear went over the mountain (1964) — Contribuidor — 6 exemplares
The Fireside Treasury of Modern Humor (1963) — Contribuidor — 5 exemplares
The Bathroom Reader (1946) — Contribuidor — 3 exemplares
Alfred A. Knopf - quarter century 1915-1940 (1940) — Contribuidor — 3 exemplares
American Aphrodite (Volume Four, Number Sixteen) (1955) — Contribuidor — 2 exemplares
Eyes of Boyhood (1953) — Contribuidor — 2 exemplares
The Ethnic Image in Modern American Literature, 1900-1950 (1984) — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar
Wings, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 1932 — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar
The Avon Annual: 18 Great Story of Today (1944) — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar
The Yale Review: A National Quarterly (July 1920) — Contribuidor — 1 exemplar
Essays by James Huneker — Editor — 1 exemplar


Conhecimento Comum



I read the 1936 4th edition, last reprinted in 1974. I note that the price in pencil is marked down to $5.98 and my address is written in it from 1977, so I bought it used. The book has been on various shelves in four states since then. It took a Coronavirus pandemic to get me to look at it, and I ended up reading it through. If you’re interested in the difference between English in England vs the US, in the history of the development of American English, in the origin of American surnames, in American place names, in American slang, or in the historical development of any of these things, I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t enjoy this detailed work.

If you are of a sensitive nature, you might be offended by Mencken’s well-known bigotry, but he does not display it openly here. It is just occasionally slightly exposed. You might not even notice it unless you are an American of non-English ancestry.

Of some interest were:
Mencken explains the difference between the meaning of the expression to jew someone in the US and England on p. 124 (Who knew?).

There is a list of Americanisms that derive from commercial products. Some are surprising and some that anyone would have known in 1936 have disappeared, e.g. uneeda.

There is a list of common short words that were selected and used by newspaper editors for their headlines that sometimes popularized the word, e.g.

Ace. In the sense of expert or champion it came in during the World War. It has since been extended to mean any person who shows any ponderable proficiency in whatever he undertakes to do…
Blast. It has quite displaced explosion in headlines…
Car. It is rapidly displacing all the older synonyms for automobile, including even auto….

He discusses the creation of American verbs in various ways, e.g. to phone … to tiptoe (for to walk tiptoe) … to reminisce … to orate … to author, and others using -ize and a proper name which are now almost lost to us, e.g. to hooverize (introduced in 1917 and included in Webster’s New International Dictionary in 1934) and to oslerize appearing after a famous oration by Dr. William Osler in 1905.

Along with other true or pseudo-abbreviations Mencken mentions the American expression O.K., which he comments was already used internationally in 1936, and he discusses its various false origin histories.

There is an extensive discussion of the differences between American and English school terminology that I found useful since I never understand what it means if a character in a novel is in their third standard, or what the differences are among an usher, a master, a pro-chancellor, or a high steward.

Various American vs English euphemisms are mentioned including nerts that I mostly see in old comic strips, but was apparently very widely used in 1936. He mentions some odd euphemisms that have been used in newspapers where gonorrhea, syphilis, venereal, and even virgin were prohibited. In 1933 the new treatment of giving a patient malaria to treat tertiary syphilis was invented (the fever is beneficial; the inventor won the Nobel prize in Medicine). The New York Times spoke of it only as a dread form of insanity caused by a blood disease. Mencken tells us that in Appalachia and the Ozarks certain common words were avoided in every-day speech regardless of context. Examples include bed, tail and leg!

There is an interesting discussion of various expletives and the history of their development, e.g. hell and, in England, bloody.

In a fantastic discovery (!), I learned that the word insignia is, in Latin, the plural of insigne, and that it was formerly considered inappropriate to use insignia as a singular noun, much as some decry data or criteria as a singular.
… (mais)
markm2315 | 1 outra crítica | Jul 1, 2023 |
I have read this book off and on for a decade i suppose. A topical selection of his newspaper columns- arranged by Presidents, food, music, Scopes trial, Baltimore miscellany and so forth. Consistently great, if cranky reading. Has great charm in the 1st draft of history way - that is about Harding and Coolidge and Hoover and Roosevelt before they had established their reputation (none of that inevitability of history that retrospective history books necessarily use). Cranky, but light hearted - he often strikes me as a man who is paid for his opinion and even if he doesn't have a strong opinion will devolve on one - immediately - to serve his purpose (the writing of the article). Fair enough. Great writer- one wonders how he was so popular when he is insulting his readers almost constantly. I know we all see ourselves as part of the rarefied group - with Mencken, of course- who see through bunk and rise above the rabble he so disparages.… (mais)
apende | Jul 12, 2022 |
laplantelibrary | 3 outras críticas | Mar 14, 2022 |



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