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Prejudices: A Selection (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) Paperback – June 19, 1996
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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.
About the Author
Born in Baltimore in 1880, H. L. Mencken remained a lifelong resident and became one of the city's most famous sons. Ever home to controversy, his column for the Baltimore Sun earned him a national reputation. He died in his rowhouse on Union Square in 1956.
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Selections are dated, obscure and inferior in quality.
If you love Mencken, buy Chrestomathy, his own collection of his writings.
I was thinking HLM was your GBS (gadflies, the pair of 'em, and with brains to match) before I reached his Shaw piece. He describes Shaw as "bellowing vociferously what every one knows". Touché, Henry! Shaw is little read these days either, as wit or thinker. As for the coinages, from flubdub to fantoddish, does Henry think he's Shakespeare? Probably, yes. (That's one in the eye for those professors, hot d*mn!) But humour dates - look at Shakespeare - and the would-be contrarian (and defender of 'the gentry'*) spirals into simple grotesquery.
NB This 1996 reissue lacks either index or original publication dates. It's obviously meant as bedside reading. Soothing it's not, though it may send you off
* No Matthew Arnold he. "Culture seeks to do away with classes."
* Think severe cliff-face, or extremely rough ground. Not well defined in either my '44, '93 or '03 Shorter Oxfords (shoulda hung onto my parents' disintegrating prewar edition, but waddid I know?) and these days the meaning seems to be toning down from repellent to merely irritating. The Collins English Dictionary ('86) gives 'fearsome; forbidding', with a nicely graphic etymology, and helpfully tells us it's 'rare'. (Less so in France.) For you word mavens out there I'd always say go with the formidable (Scottish) Chambers as desktop or vademecum. In this case it let me down; it apes Oxford.