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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 visa mer 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) visa färre


Verk av H. L. Mencken

The Vintage Mencken (1955) — Författare — 658 exemplar
In Defense of Women (1918) 385 exemplar
Prejudices: A Selection (1958) 270 exemplar
Treatise on the Gods (1930) 203 exemplar
The Diary of H.L. Mencken (1989) 155 exemplar
Notes on Democracy (2007) 142 exemplar
My Life As Author And Editor (1993) 133 exemplar
The Impossible H. L. Mencken (1991) — Författare — 125 exemplar
The American Scene: A Reader (1965) 115 exemplar
A Second Mencken Chrestomathy (1995) 98 exemplar
Minority Report (1955) 95 exemplar
A Choice of Days (1980) 88 exemplar
A Carnival of Buncombe (1956) 87 exemplar
The Days of H.L. Mencken (1947) 79 exemplar
Newspaper Days: 1899-1906 (1758) 76 exemplar
H.L. Mencken on Religion (2002) 74 exemplar
Happy Days: 1880-1892 (1940) 68 exemplar
Heathen Days: 1890-1936 (1601) 58 exemplar
Prejudices: first series (1923) 47 exemplar
Damn! A Book of Calumny (1918) 44 exemplar
A Book of Prefaces (1917) 41 exemplar
A Book of Burlesques (1916) 33 exemplar
Mencken's America (2004) 28 exemplar
Letters of H.L. Mencken (1961) 27 exemplar
Selected Prejudices (1926) 26 exemplar
H.L. Mencken on Music (1961) 22 exemplar
Livro Dos Insultos, O (2000) 22 exemplar
Christmas Story (1946) 21 exemplar
The New Mencken Letters (1977) 21 exemplar
Prejudices: Third Series (1922) 17 exemplar
Prejudices: Second Series (1924) 16 exemplar
Friedrich Nietzsche (1993) 14 exemplar
Europe After 8:15 (1914) — Co-author — 14 exemplar
The Antichrist 12 exemplar
Treatise on Right and Wrong (1934) 11 exemplar
Prejudices: sixth series (1927) 11 exemplar
Prejudices: Fourth Series (1925) 9 exemplar
The Sunpapers of Baltimore (1937) 9 exemplar
The Gist of Nietzche. (1910) 8 exemplar
Americana (1925) 8 exemplar
James Branch Cabell (2011) 6 exemplar
Prejudices: Fifth Series (1926) 5 exemplar
American Mercury: Facsimile Edition of Volume I (1984) — Redaktör — 4 exemplar
A Little Book in C Major (2006) 4 exemplar
Notes on Democracy 4 exemplar
Pistols for Two (2010) 3 exemplar
Americana 1926 (1926) 3 exemplar
Ship Ahoy — Bidragsgivare — 3 exemplar
Partis pris (2016) 3 exemplar
Americana 1926 (1926) 2 exemplar
Making a President (1932) 2 exemplar
Gesammelte Vorurteile (2000) 2 exemplar
Mencken's Americana (2002) 2 exemplar
O diário de H. L. Mencken (1995) 1 exemplar
Book of Burlesques (1923) 1 exemplar
Zur Verteidigung der Frau (2015) 1 exemplar
Supplement 1 exemplar
The American Mercury, 1927 [Volume XI; Nos. 41-44] (1927) — Redaktör — 1 exemplar
Collected Poems (2009) 1 exemplar
Seven Books (2015) 1 exemplar

Associerade verk

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50 Great Short Stories (1952) — Bidragsgivare — 1,216 exemplar
The Best American Essays of the Century (2000) — Bidragsgivare — 759 exemplar
The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Bidragsgivare, vissa utgåvor544 exemplar
Drinking, Smoking and Screwing: Great Writers on Good Times (1994) — Bidragsgivare — 332 exemplar
Russell Baker's Book of American Humor (1993) — Bidragsgivare — 201 exemplar
Literary history of the United States (1946) — Bidragsgivare — 189 exemplar
World War I and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It (1918) — Bidragsgivare — 186 exemplar
Atheism: A Reader (2000) — Bidragsgivare — 181 exemplar
This Is My Best (1942) — Bidragsgivare — 180 exemplar
The Norton Book of Personal Essays (1997) — Bidragsgivare — 142 exemplar
The Mark Twain Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Work (2010) — Bidragsgivare — 138 exemplar
The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997) — Bidragsgivare — 96 exemplar
The Line of Love : Dizain des Mariages (1905) — Inledning, vissa utgåvor83 exemplar
Tales of Mean Streets (1894) — Förord, vissa utgåvor67 exemplar
Desert Island Decameron (1945) — Bidragsgivare — 56 exemplar
The Bedside Tales: A Gay Collection (1945) — Bidragsgivare — 43 exemplar
The Nietzsche-Wagner Correspondence (1922) — Inledning, vissa utgåvor40 exemplar
Great Tales of Terror (2002) — Bidragsgivare — 39 exemplar
A Quarto of Modern Literature (1935) — Bidragsgivare — 38 exemplar
The World of Law, Volume II : The Law as Literature (1960) — Bidragsgivare — 21 exemplar
A Round-Table in Poictesme: A Symposium (1924) — Bidragsgivare — 21 exemplar
William Jennings Bryan and the campaign of 1896 (1953) — Bidragsgivare — 13 exemplar
The Best in the World (1973) — Bidragsgivare — 12 exemplar
British and American Essays, 1905-1956 (1959) — Bidragsgivare — 7 exemplar
Time to Be Young: Great Stories of the Growing Years (1945) — Bidragsgivare — 7 exemplar
The bear went over the mountain (1964) — Bidragsgivare — 6 exemplar
The Fireside Treasury of Modern Humor (1963) — Bidragsgivare — 5 exemplar
The Bathroom Reader (1946) — Bidragsgivare — 3 exemplar
Alfred A. Knopf - quarter century 1915-1940 (1940) — Bidragsgivare — 3 exemplar
American Aphrodite (Volume Four, Number Sixteen) (1955) — Bidragsgivare — 2 exemplar
Eyes of Boyhood (1953) — Bidragsgivare — 2 exemplar
The Ethnic Image in Modern American Literature, 1900-1950 (1984) — Bidragsgivare — 1 exemplar
Wings, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 1932 — Bidragsgivare — 1 exemplar
The Avon Annual: 18 Great Story of Today (1944) — Bidragsgivare — 1 exemplar
The Yale Review: A National Quarterly (July 1920) — Bidragsgivare — 1 exemplar
Essays by James Huneker — Redaktör — 1 exemplar


Allmänna fakta



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.
… (mer)
markm2315 | 1 annan recension | 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.… (mer)
apende | Jul 12, 2022 |



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