Before there was any such thing as political correctness, H. L. Mencken was flouting it. He was also cheerfully deriding the precursors of family values and lambasting the guardians of public virtue. This historic new collection is further evidence that Mencken was our most astute, stylish, and biliously funny commentator on the eternal American quackeries.
A Second Mencken Chrestomathy (a word meaning “a collection of choice passages from an author or authors”) was compiled by the sage of Baltimore before he suffered the stroke that ended his career and has only now been retrieved from his private papers by the columnist and Mencken biographer Terry Teachout. Its 238 selections—many of which have never before been published in book form—encompass subjects from Americana (“The Commonwealth of Morons”) to men and women (“Sex on the Stage”) and from criminology (“More and Better Psychopaths”) to the pursuit of happiness (“Alcohol”). The result is Mencken at his most engaging, maddening, heretical, and hilarious.
About H.L. Mencken
Henry L. Mencken was born in Baltimore in 1880 and died there in 1956. He began his long career as a journalist, critic, and philologist on the Baltimore Morning Herald in 1899. In 1906 he joined the staff of the Baltimore Sun, thus beginning an association which lasted until a few years before his death. He was co-editor of the Smart Set with George Jean Nathan from 1908 to 1923, and with Nathan he founded The American Mercury, of which he was sole editor from 1925 to 1933. He was the author of many books, most notably The American Language, Prejudices, Happy Days, Newspaper Days, Heathen Days, and Minority Report.
Charles A. Fecher was born in Baltimore in 1917 and lives there still. He is the author of The Philosophy of Jacques Maritain and Mencken: A Study of His Thought. He has written articles and reviews for a large number of publications, including The Critic, The Catholic World, The Sign, and the Baltimore Sun.