Member Blogs > Books Tell You WhyH. L. Mencken: Chief Polemicist and Literary Critic

  • Sat, 12 Sep 2015 08:00:00    Permalink

    "Mencken is himself 'a lyncher' since he once proposed to take William Jennings Bryan 'to the top of the Washington Monument...disembowel him and hurl his remains into the Potomac.'"
    -The New York Sunday Times

    From the start of H. L. Mencken's popular career, beginning with his summary of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy, Mencken's ideological roots were obvious to any discerning reader. His ideals required only a basic knowledge of the company he kept and the authors he idolized. While his style is permeated with raw wit and uninhibited ridicule of those he felt were beneath him, Mencken was a force, in more ways than one. He was formative in an early understanding of vernacular American English, a foremost literary critic in his time, and a champion of women's rights (even while being entirely unsympathetic to suffragists in his news coverage). He also popularized a social-Darwinian reading of Nietzsche that lasted through much of the twentieth century.

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