A Second Mencken Chrestomathy

H. L. Mencken, Author, Terry Teachout, Editor
H. L. Mencken, Author, Terry Teachout, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $30 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42829-9
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
This book's precursor, A Mencken Chrestomathy (collection), was a bestseller in 1949; this anthology of 238 short excerpts from a range of works, selected and annotated by Mencken but unfinished, lay undisturbed in a Baltimore library until Teachout, an arts columnist for the New York Daily News, found it in 1992, while working on a Mencken biography. Teachout considers Mencken's work still immediate. Indeed, quotable lines abound: ``His public life is an endless series of evasions and false pretenses,'' writes Mencken on ``the politician under democracy.'' Baltimore's bard can be magnificent and maddening in the same passage, damning American idiocies while disparaging immigrants. But what impresses most about this collection is Mencken's breadth; few contemporary writers would assume such a broad brief, writing not only about politics, law and the clergy but also about geography, literature, music and drink. To apply a Mencken sobriquet, he was no lesser eminento. (Jan.)
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