Diary of H. L. Mencken

Diary of H. L. Mencken

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by H. L. Mencken
     
 

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H. L. Mencken's diary was, at his own request, kept sealed in the vaults of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Library for a quarter of a century after his death. The diary covers the years 1930 -- 1948, and provides a vivid, unvarnished, sometimes shocking picture of Mencken himself, his world, and his friends and antagonists, from Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald,…  See more details below

Overview

H. L. Mencken's diary was, at his own request, kept sealed in the vaults of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Library for a quarter of a century after his death. The diary covers the years 1930 -- 1948, and provides a vivid, unvarnished, sometimes shocking picture of Mencken himself, his world, and his friends and antagonists, from Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and William Faulkner to Franklin D. Roosevelt, for whom Mencken nourished a hatred that resulted in spectacular and celebrated feats of invective.

From the more than 2,000 pages of typescript that have now come to light, the Mencken scholar Charles A. Fecher has made a generous selection of entries carefully chosen to preserve the whole range, color, and impact of the diary. Here, full scale, is Mencken the unique observer and disturber of American society. And here too is Mencken the human being of wildly contradictory impulses: the skeptic who was prey to small superstitions, the dare-all warrior who was a hopeless hypochondriac, the loving husband and generous friend who was, alas, a bigot.

Mencken emerges from these pages unretouched -- in all the often outrageous gadfly vitality that made him, at his brilliant best, so important to the intellectual fabric of American life

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hitherto unpublished, Mencken's diary, dashed off in spare moments between 1930 and 1948, discloses new things about his own tranquil, complacent life and about Dreiser, Hergesheimer, Sinclair Lewis, among other writers and prominent Americans. Fecher, a Mencken scholar in Baltimore, annotates entries that reveal Mencken the author, journalist, family man, friend, neighbor, eccentric humorist and curmudgeon. The diary displays Mencken's patronizing superiority toward blacks, an ugly attitude toward Jews, a ``maniacal'' hatred of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and sweeping generalizations about everything: ``When authors quarrel with their publishers I usually sympathize with the publishers, for they are nearly always in the right.'' Delightfully compulsive reading. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This is about one-third of the diary that Mencken kept from 1930 to 1948, with some marginal explanatory notes by Mencken scholar Fecher. The diary, which was sealed by Mencken's request for 25 years, reveals Mencken's daily thoughts about his activities and friends, as well as his attitudes and biases. Some insights into the literary world and the literary greats of the day may be gleaned here, but there is not much about Mencken's journalism career. Mencken followers will find the diary selections interesting, although not particularly revealing. As Fecher notes, the diary is ``perfectly consistent with all the other Menckens of fact and legend.'' For literature, social history, and larger journalism collections.-- Abraham Z. Bass, Northern Illinois Univ., DeKalb

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307808868
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/01/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
849,507
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

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.

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