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Library of America H. L. Mencken Edition

H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken: Prejudices Vol. 1 (LOA #206) by H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken: Prejudices Vol. 2 (LOA #207) by H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken: The Days Trilogy, Expanded Edition (LOA #257) by H. L. Mencken

Library of America H. L. Mencken Edition : Titles in Order

Book 3
A major literary event: Mencken’s dazzling autobiography, with 200 pages of his own never-before-published commentary and photos. In 1936, at the age of fifty-five, H. L. Mencken published a reminiscence about his boyhood in The New Yorker, beginning a long and magnificent adventure in autobiography by America’s greatest journalist. Mencken went on to gather his childhood recollections in Happy Days (1940), a richly detailed, poignant account of growing up in Baltimore. A critical and popular success, the book surprised many with its glimpses of a less curmudgeonly Mencken, and there soon followed the absorbing sequels Newspaper Days (1941), charting his rise at the Baltimore Herald from cub reporter to editor, and Heathen Days (1943), recounting his varied excursions as journalist and public figure, including his coverage of the Scopes trial in 1925. But unknown to the legions of Days books’ admirers, Mencken continued to add to them after publication, annotating and expanding each volume in typescripts sealed to the public for twenty-five years after his death. Until now, most of this material—often more frank and unvarnished than the original Days books—has never been published. Containing nearly 200 pages of previously unseen writing, and illustrated with photographs from Mencken’s archives, many taken by Mencken himself, this expanded and definitive edition of the Days trilogy is a cause for celebration.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 2
H. L. Mencken was the most provocative and influential journalist and cultural critic in twentieth-century America. In this volume and a companion, The Library of America presents all six series of Prejudices (1919–1927), the iconoclastic collections that helped blast American literature out of its complacency and into a new age of frankness and maturity. The fantastic linguistic inventiveness, full-bodied humor, and unwaveringly fierce courage of his journalism made him a liberating force for his contemporaries.

The final three series show Mencken at his lacerating best, taking on targets from religious fundamentalism to the dismal state of higher education. Included are such famous essays as “The Hills of Zion,” his report on the local atmosphere surrounding the Scopes trial in 1925; “In Memoriam: W.J.B.,” his relentless postmortem on William Jennings Bryan; “The Fringes of Lovely Letters,” a hilarious delineation of the lower and outer reaches of the literary world; “Comstockery,” a devastating account of the anti-obscenity crusader Anthony Comstock (“A good woman, to him, was simply one who was efficiently policed”); and “On Living in Baltimore,” a celebration of his beloved native city.

Mencken was a man of strong enthusiasms and even stronger antipathies, expressed in a prose style that marshaled all the resources of the American language in a rich blend of comic invention and sarcastic fury. To read Prejudices is to embark on an exploration of many curious byways of American culture in a moment of tumultuous and often combative transition. Mencken never shied from combat, and the courage with which he confronted the entrenched truisms and hypocrisies of his time made him a uniquely liberating force in American letter.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 1
H. L. Mencken was unquestionably the most provocative and influential journalist and cultural critic in twentieth-century America. The six volumes of Prejudices, published between 1919 and 1927, were both a slashing attack on what Mencken saw as American provincialism and hypocrisy and a resounding defense of the writers and thinkers he thought of as harbingers of a new frankness and maturity. Laced with savage humor and delighting in verbal play, Mencken’s prose remains a one-of-a-kind roller-coaster ride through a staggering range of themes: literature and journalism, politics and religion, sex and marriage, food and drink.

In this and a companion volume, The Library of America presents all six series of Prejudices in their original form. The first three series include some of his most famous writing, including “The Sahara of the Bozart,” an attack on Southern culture so unbridled as to earn him widespread criticism from politicians and the press; “The National Letters,” a lively and free-spoken survey of writing in America; “The Dry Millennium,” an analysis of the multiple absurdities of Prohibition; “Exeunt Omnes,” an unblinking and deromanticized contemplation of death; and “On Being an American,” a humorous celebration of the political and cultural panorama that he saw as “incomparably the greatest show on earth.” Here are his harsh summing-up of Theodore Roosevelt’s career (“he didn’t believe in democracy; he believed simply in government”) and his sympathetic portraits of literary friends like James Huneker and George Jean Nathan. Mencken’s account of the original reception of Prejudices, from his memoir My Life as Editor and Author, is included as an appendix.

Edmund Wilson wrote: “Mencken’s mind . . . has all the courage in the world in a country where courage is rare.” That courage may sometimes have been coupled with an inflexible stubbornness that led him into positions hard to defend. But to succeeding generations of writers and readers, Mencken was the figure who had risked charges of heresy and sedition and almost single-handedly brought America into a new cultural era. To read him is to be plunged into an era whose culture wars were easily as ferocious as those of our own day, in the company of a critic of vast curiosity and vivacious frankness.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
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