H. L. Mencken cover

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H. L. Mencken

American journalist and writer

1880   -   1956

country of citizenship: United States of America
language of expression: English
educated at: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
occupation: satirist, literary critic, essayist, social critic, autobiographer, writer, journalist, historian, linguist
influenced by: Rudyard Kipling

Henry Louis Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956) was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic, and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians, and contemporary movements. His satirical reporting on the Scopes Trial, which he dubbed the "Monkey Trial," also gained him attention. As a scholar, Mencken is known for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States. As an admirer of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he was an outspoken opponent of organized religion, theism, and representative democracy, the last of which he viewed as a system in which inferior men dominated their superiors. Mencken was a supporter of scientific progress and was critical of osteopathy and chiropractic. He was also an open critic of economics. Mencken opposed the American entry into both World War I and World War II. Some of the terminology in his private diary entries has been described by some researchers as racist and anti-Semitic, although this characterization has been disputed. Larry S. Gibson argued that Mencken's views on race changed significantly between his early and later writings, and that it was more accurate to describe Mencken as elitist than racist. He seemed to show a genuine enthusiasm for militarism but never in its American form. "War is a good thing," he once wrote, "because it is honest, it admits the central fact of human nature.... A nation too long at peace becomes a sort of gigantic old maid."His longtime home in the Union Square neighborhood of West Baltimore was turned into a city museum, the H. L. Mencken House. His papers were distributed among various city and university libraries, with the largest collection held in the Mencken Room at the central branch of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library.
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Happy Days, 1880–1892

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In Defense of Women

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Treatise on the Gods

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Notes on Democracy

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Newspaper days, 1899-1906

author: H. L. Mencken

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