Mencken : the American iconoclast / Marion Elizabeth Rodgers.

by Rodgers, Marion ElizabethLooking glass.

Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2005.Description: ix, 662 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.ISBN: 0195072383; 9780195072389.Subject(s): Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956Looking glass | Authors, American -- 20th century -- BiographyLooking glass | Editors -- United States -- BiographyLooking glass | Journalists -- United States -- BiographyLooking glassNote: Bibliography: pages 634-647. - Includes index.
Item type Home library Collection Class number Status Date due Barcode Item reservations
Long loan London College of Communication
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

A towering figure on the American cultural landscape, H.L. Mencken stands out as one of our most influential stylists and fearless iconoclasts--the twentieth century's greatest newspaper journalist, a famous wit, and a constant figure of controversy.
Marion Elizabeth Rodgers has written the definitive biography of Mencken, the most illuminating book ever published about this giant of American letters. Rodgers captures both the public and the private man, covering the many love affairs that made him known as "The German Valentino" and his
happy marriage at the age of 50 to Sara Haardt, who, despite a fatal illness, refused to become a victim and earned his deepest love. The book discusses his friendships, especially his complicated but stimulating partnership with the famed theater critic George Jean Nathan. Rodgers vividly recreates
Mencken's era: the glittering tapestry of turn-of-the-century America, the roaring twenties, depressed thirties, and the home front during World War II. But the heart of the book is Mencken. When few dared to shatter complacencies, Mencken fought for civil liberties and free speech. We see the
prominent role he played in the Scopes Monkey Trial, his long crusade against Prohibition, his fierce battles against press censorship, and his constant exposure of pious frauds and empty uplift. The champion of our tongue in The American Language, Mencken also played a pivotal role in defining the
shape of American letters through The Smart Set and The American Mercury, magazines that introduced such writers as James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Langston Hughes. The paradoxes of Mencken's life are explored, as new gaps are filled regarding his notorious views of minorities and his
conflict, as a German American, during two world wars. And throughout, Rodgers captures the irrepressible spirit and irreverent wit for which Mencken was famed.
Drawing on research in more than sixty archives including private collections in the United States and in Germany, previously unseen, on exclusive interviews with Mencken's friends, and on his love letters and FBI files, here is the full portrait of one of America's most colorful and
influential men.

Bibliography: pages 634-647. - Includes index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Prologue: Boston, 1926 (p. 1)
  • Part 1 1880-1914 (p. 11)
  • 1 The Citizen of Baltimore (p. 13)
  • 2 The Eternal Boy (p. 32)
  • 3 August Mencken & Bro. (p. 41)
  • 4 Baltimore and Beyond (p. 54)
  • 5 Terse and Terrible Texts (p. 62)
  • 6 Plays and Players (p. 70)
  • 7 The Great Baltimore Fire (p. 80)
  • 8 A Man of Ability (p. 94)
  • 9 A Young Man in a Hurry (p. 102)
  • 10 Broadening Horizons (p. 113)
  • 11 The Bad Boy of Baltimore (p. 121)
  • 12 Outside, Looking In (p. 131)
  • Part 2 1914-1919 (p. 139)
  • 13 The Holy Terror (p. 141)
  • 14 Mencken, Nathan, and God (p. 145)
  • 15 Round One! (p. 152)
  • 16 Berlin, 1917 (p. 162)
  • 17 The Prevailing Winds (p. 175)
  • 18 Over Here (p. 190)
  • 19 The Infernal Feminine (p. 200)
  • Part 3 1920-1930 (p. 209)
  • 20 The Dry Millenium Dawns (p. 211)
  • 21 Of Politics and Prose (p. 221)
  • 22 That Man in Baltimore (p. 229)
  • 23 The Duel of Sex (p. 241)
  • 24 Old Discord and New Alliances (p. 256)
  • 25 The Scopes Trial (p. 271)
  • 26 In the Crucible (p. 295)
  • 27 Banned in Boston (p. 300)
  • 28 The Great God Mencken (p. 306)
  • 29 A Sentimental Journey (p. 316)
  • 30 The German Valentino (p. 325)
  • 31 The Sea of Matrimony (p. 340)
  • 32 Variations on a Familiar Theme (p. 351)
  • Part 4 1930-1935 (p. 357)
  • 33 The Tamed Ogre of Cathedral Street (p. 359)
  • 34 Hard Times (p. 371)
  • 35 "Happy Days Are Here Again" (p. 379)
  • 36 Maryland, My Maryland (p. 387)
  • 37 The Tune Changes (p. 393)
  • 38 The Late Mr. Mencken (p. 399)
  • 39 A Time to Be Wary (p. 406)
  • 40 A Winter of Horror (p. 414)
  • Part 5 1936-1940 (p. 425)
  • 41 Baltimore's Friendly Dragon (p. 427)
  • 42 Mencken as Boss (p. 437)
  • 43 Berlin, 1938 (p. 448)
  • 44 Polemics and Prejudices (p. 456)
  • 45 Triumph of Democracy (p. 464)
  • Part 6 1941-1948 (p. 471)
  • 46 The Weapon of Silence (p. 473)
  • 47 On the Home Front (p. 479)
  • 48 Mencken and the Guild (p. 486)
  • 49 Friends and Relatives (p. 493)
  • 50 The Man Who Hates Everything (p. 505)
  • 51 The Great Upset of 1948 (p. 516)
  • Part 7 1949-1956 (p. 529)
  • 52 The Last Days (p. 531)
  • Epilogue: The Passing of an Era (p. 547)
  • Acknowledgments (p. 554)
  • Notes (p. 559)
  • Bibliography (p. 634)
  • Index (p. 648)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) is considered one of the most influential and controversial journalists and critics of the first half of the 20th century. Rodgers (Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters) has produced a comprehensive biography of this famously irascible writer from Baltimore. Interestingly, she defines him as eying America as an outsider, even as his voice is considered authentically American. Rodgers draws on a number of archives, both in the United States and in Germany, incorporating the results into a readable whole. In addition to reviewing Mencken's career and writing, she studies his private life in detail and does an excellent job of tying the strands together. She does not avoid consideration of Mencken's bigotry and his failure to see the threat Hitler posed. Including over 50 pages of source notes and an extensive bibliography, this work will be an important addition to the library of any university, especially those with journalism programs, as well as to larger public libraries.-Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

For much of the early 20th century, H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), aka the Baron of Baltimore, was the country's most famous pundit, inspiring both love and fear and sometimes an equal measure of both. As novelist Richard Wright noted, "He was using words as a weapon." His targets were only the biggest issues of his day: Prohibition, puritanism and censorship. Even now, almost 50 years after his death, many of Mencken's political insights hold true, such as this gem: "Nations get on with one another, not by telling the truth, but by lying gracefully." Yet as Rodgers shows in this thorough work, Mencken was more than a newspaperman and prolific author; in 1924, he founded-and continued to edit-the highbrow (and popular) monthly magazine The American Mercury, which printed pieces by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Langston Hughes (at a time when most white editors would have nothing to do with black writers). But Rodgers, editor of Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters and The Impossible H.L. Mencken, doesn't shy away from her subject's faults; she examines Mencken's anti-Semitism and his unsettling devotion to Germany (the land of his ancestors) even as the shadow of the Nazi Wehrmacht fell on Europe. Drawing on research in more than 60 archives (including previously unseen private collections in the U.S. and in Germany), exclusive interviews with Mencken's friends and his love letters, this is a meticulous portrait of one of the most original and complicated men in American letters. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

CHOICE Review

Twelve biographies of H. L. Mencken have been published, and this one--engaging, comprehensive, and definitive--joins Fred Hobson's Mencken: A Life (CH, Nov'94, 32-1383) as one of the best. Mencken was arguably one of two most influential newspapermen on 20th-century American thought and culture (Walter Lippmann being the other), and Rodgers's extensive research and fresh interpretation reveal new aspects of this complex man and prolific writer. Rodgers tells of Mencken's tangled relations with women before his marriage to Sara Haardt, explains his relations with George Jean Nathan, and reminds readers of Mencken's fierce defense of the First Amendment and freedom of expression. His assaults on assorted mountebanks--literary, academic, political, and religious--earned him envy in his time and enmity that persists today. Rodgers argues for Mencken as neither racist nor antisemite, but rather as an elitist who viewed people equally--with contempt when deserved and warranting his blistering attacks. Rodgers's writing is lucid, clear, and objective. The 86 photographs, many heretofore unpublished, are a wonderful addition to this excellent book. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All readers, all levels. S. L. Harrison University of Miami

Author notes provided by Syndetics


Marion Elizabeth Rodgers has edited Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters and The Impossible H.L. Mencken, a popular collection of his best journalism. She lives in Washington, DC.

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