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Prejudices: A Selection (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) Paperback – June 19, 1996

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the 1920s, when he was at the peak of his form, H. L. Mencken would periodically collect his magazine work and publish his favorite pieces in a series of books entitled Prejudices. This collection represents the best of those books. The essays were selected and introduced by novelist James T. Farrell. Prejudices: A Selection first appeared nearly 40 years ago and is now being published by Johns Hopkins University Press, which is thankfully bringing much of Mencken's work back into print. Included are such gems as Mencken's attack on the South in "The Sahara of the Bozart"; his amazingly prescient appreciation of Ring Lardner; and more than two dozen other essays which show convincingly why Mencken was one of the most popular, most feared, and among fools, the most hated writers of his day.


It just blew my... mind. Mencken's skill at skewering the idiots of his day and age was my introduction to the kinetic power of artfully crafted language.

(James Howard Kunstler The Week) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Maryland Paperback Bookshelf
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (June 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801853419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801853418
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Frederick J. Johnsen on October 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mencken helps to keeps me sane. When I can no longer stomach euphemisms, political correctness or the praise of mediocrity, along comes Harry to slay the idleheaded icons of modern American society. He accomplishes the task as effortlessly today as he did in the 1920s. It shows he was either ahead of his time, or things never really change. While those not familiar with Mencken might be unacquainted with some of those harpooned by him, a little research and reading will clear up the unfamiliarity. As for Mencken's style, vocabulary and content, one word describes them: priceless. Prejudices and Mencken's Chrestomathy should be required reading in every school across the nation. This book, like most of his writings, is not for the weak, for those easily offended or those who measure all things with the modern yardstick of self-righteous indignation. These people will be screaming half way into the first page. Keep your generals, kings and the like. If there were one person from the past I could sit with over a schooner of beer it would be the Sage of Baltimore.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have recently finished "Prejudices," by H.L. Mencken. I knew little of the author, save that which I had gleaned by reading one of his other books ("A Discourse on the Gods," I think it was.) But, after coming away from the Satanic wag's essays, I am inclined to accord him a place in the pantheon right next to Nietzsche, Mark Twain and Socrates. An evil, little man! Acerbic, brilliant, roaringly funny! History buffs will appreciate the insight these essays will give on the values and mores of the Early 20th Century and the light his intelligence throws upon the world around him--and around us today. Because, as it turns out, the greatest accomplishment of this witty court jester, this slayer of phonies and defender of common sense is his talent for uncovering atemporal, universal principles which are as true today as they were a hundred years ago . . . or a thousand! A brilliant work from a glowing mind, the secret thrill in reading it is seeing how little everything has changed and what a short distance we've really come since the Age of Troglodytes.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Yan Timanovsky on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
These are some of Mencken's best essays collated together by an HLM aficionado and scholar, James Farrell. The muckraker/libertarian/critic/journalist/satirist is in top form as he rips into everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to chiropractors, and every institution from the American Legion to democracy in general and American democracy in particular.

Mencken's rich, inimitable stylistic flourishes complement his acerbic, lacerating wit. He criticizes criticism--and criticism of criticism. He takes on the South in the classic "The Sahara of the Bozart"--not ad hominem, but cultural criticism of a bastardized postbellum region, with fair regard for the genteel culture and society of its past. A cynic through and through, Mencken nevertheless displays his ability to appreciate the bright rays peaking through massive gray clouds--Whitman, Conrad, and Twain, among others.

The book is well edited and gives us a wonderful picture of a scribe at the height of his powers--in style and substance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JAK on December 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
Mencken can be extremely fun to quote.He has flashes of brilliance and occasionally ,he "nails" a topic.But this book raises a question in my mind, is he tolerable in large doses? I'm not convinced.Part of the problem here is that much of the writing on display is about dinosaurs, dead, buried and justly forgotten.Then there is a tendency on his part to get facts wrong.He tells us that George Bernard Shaw is a typical Ulsterman of Scottish descent.Of Scottish descent GBS may have been but born and raised in Dublin, he was no Ulsterman.A far more important problem with Mencken is his style which can be downright grating.He has a tendency towards an irritating archness that is just plain annoying and I think veers in the direction of silliness. Yet , there is something here.He is quirky and alert to things more academic and overtly intellectual critics don't see.He certainly wasn't trying to win any popularity contests. I like it that he was essentially out of step , even when he was fashionable.I suspect there are better collections of his writings out there. This one is edited by the largely forgotten James T. Farrell.
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