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With a style that combined biting sarcasm with the language of the free lunch counter Henry Louis Mencken shook politics and politicians for nearly half a century Now fifty years after Mencken’s death the Johns Hopkins University Press announces The Buncombe Collection newly packaged editions of nine Mencken classics Happy Days Heathen Days Newspaper Days Prejudices Treatise on the Gods On Politics Thirty Five Years of Newspaper Work Minority Report and A Second Mencken ChrestomathyIn the third volume of his autobiography H L Mencken covers a range of subjects from Hoggie Unglebower the best dog trainer in Christendom to his visit to the Holy Land where he looked for the ruins of Gomorrah


10 thoughts on “Heathen Days Mencken's Autobiography 1890 1936 Buncombe Collection

  1. says:

    This is the second best of Mencken's three part autobiography More a collection of essays than an narrative it is a fascinating insight into his wry view of the world Mencken is impatient mocking and arrogant but brilliant He has his faults but doesn't shy away from them His honesty is as shocking today as it was in the ancient days of the first uarter of the 20th century It's amazing how neglected he is today but his language is far from modern and though beautiful and clever it is not very palatable to the world of Twitter and Pinterest You need a dictionary by your side when you read Mencken so I think he is destined only to sink further into obscurity; to be discovered only by literati who doggedly seek out golden nuggets from history and not the hottest 100 shades of grey For example I just bought a 1924 copy of Mencken's Prejudices 2 at a uite large used book store The proprietor had never heard of him and uickly knocked the price in half because he was an unknown author


  2. says:

    H L Menken along with Samuel Clemmons and Frederick Douglas are credited with developing the American prose style which emerged in the very late 19th Century and the very early 20th Menken’s was sharp clear and blunt He wrote so that most people could understand 95% of what he said and be left wondering about the balance He used the vernacular to assault pummel dethrone and embarrass everyone he considered a fool which meant he was always after the politician the religious those who failed to reside in a city those who lived south of Maryland regardless of the size of their polis and just about everyone else Reading Menken is a pleasure but getting to know him is uncomfortableThere are a number of Menken biography’s and the last I read was Terry Teachout’s The Skeptic This book is presented as part of an autobiographical series In fact in much a chronological grouping of essays from the period of his late high school days through the last half of the 1930’s It should be read as a presentation of Menken writings that he wanted you to digestMenken was prolific By his count he published some 5 million words newspaper writer columnist and author The breadth of his reading and then commentary was impressive – religion the philosophy of Nietzsche political theory literary and music criticism and so much Menken was often grossly wrong in judging events – he failed to stand up to Nazi aggression mostly by remaining silent and his inborn prejudices lead to opinions on blacks and Jews we find reprehensible – but he was often courageous and he was never pulled a punch He was in the thick of the Scopes trial in Dayton Tennessee Gene Kelly played the Menken character in the movie Inherit the Wind and lambasted “Homo Neanderthal” as being easily led dupes incapable of critical thought I especially enjoyed the chapters titled ‘Gore in the Caribbes’ ‘Inuisition” and ‘Beaters of the Breast’ which covered a Cuban revolution the scopes trial and phony politicians in that orderThere are many ways to read Menken his books his essays and his editorials are just a few Regardless of how you read him he is worth the experience Just be cautioned that no matter how current much of his writings are they are still the product of a person born in the 1880s


  3. says:

    This third volume of Mencken’s autobiography is made up of miscellaneous bits that span the whole of his life from his childhood in the 1890s through his later newspaper years in the twenties and thirties The best of it is in the early chapters The legend of Balti back alley ratcatcher Hoggie Unglebower and the tale of Frank the Shetland pony would have fit nicely into Mencken’s first volume Happy Days which I consider one of the great American memoirsAlso noteworthy in this volume is Mencken’s chapter “The Tone Art” on music and musicians I wrote a blog post inspired in part by Mencken’s comical reflections on oboists and other orchestra membersAll of Mencken’s faults are on display in Heathen Days I won’t go into them But the virtues of his snappy prose and his gift for storytelling are present too It’s possible to dislike Mencken the man I’m sure but I doubt it’s possible to hate reading him


  4. says:

    This is the third volume of Mencken's autobiography It is episodic and ranges from his youth to the post World War II era He is cocky and opinionated and he cuts with a knife that is exceedingly sharp He is simply a joy to read


  5. says:

    This is volume III of his memoirs but it's not as much of a memoir as volumes I II Really sort of a catch all spanning 46 years More about observations less about Mencken and his experiences


  6. says:

    Autobiography is still biography Great


  7. says:

    ASE book