A new anthology stirs the nation's most irascible journalist-critic back to life
Prejudices: The Complete Series (Library of America)
by H.L. Mencken
Library of America
$70.00 List Price
What do you call a revival that never ends? Over the past two decades, publishers have added three biographies of H. L. Mencken—Mencken: A Life by Fred Hobson, The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken by Terry Teachout, and Mencken: The American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers—to the three or four that had already been released. Over that same period, Mencken, who died in 1956 at the age of seventy-five, has been more prolific than many living authors. We've seen the release of a volume of memoirs (My Life as Author and Editor), a journal Mencken kept between 1930 and 1948 (The Diary of H. L. Mencken), and an anthology that he culled personally (A Second Mencken Chrestomathy). To those, you can add the recently published Mencken on Mencken, made up of autobiographical works not previously anthologized, and A Religious Orgy in Tennessee, comprising his newspaper and magazine reporting from the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. And that's all to say nothing of the steady traffic in reprints of his books on Nietzsche, women, the gods, democracy, politics, literature, and the American language. Now, into this running stream of Menckeniana flows the great torrent of the Library of America's 1,408-page, four-hundred-thousand-word, two-volume edition of Mencken's Prejudices series, originally published in six installments between 1919 and 1927.
The Mencken revival has proved so durable largely because its subject planned it that way. Mencken—who worked as a reporter, theater-fiction-music critic, newspaper columnist, magazine editor, memoirist, and linguist—catalogued and stockpiled