The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken

3.86 avg rating
( 196 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060505288: The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken

When H. L. Mencken talked, everyone listened -- like it or not. In the Roaring Twenties, he was the one critic who mattered, the champion of a generation of plain-speaking writers who redefined the American novel, and the ax-swinging scourge of the know-nothing, go-getting middle-class philistines whom he dubbed the "booboisie." Some loved him, others loathed him, but everybody read him. Now Terry Teachout takes on the man Edmund Wilson called "our greatest practicing literary journalist," brilliantly capturing all of Mercken's energy and erudition, passion and paradoxes, in a masterful biography of this iconoclastic figure and the world he shaped.

From his carefree days as a teenage cub reporter in turn-of-the-century Baltimore to his noisy tenure as founding editor of the American Mercury, the most influential magazine of the twenties, Mencken distinguished himself with a contrary spirit, a razor-sharp wit (he coined the term "Bible Belt"), and a keen eye for such up-and-coming authors as Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He covered everything, from the Scopes evolution trial to the 1948 presidential elections, in the pages of the Baltimore Sun. He wrote bestselling books about the failure of democracy, the foibles of the female sex, and what he memorably called "the American language." But his favorite topic was the one he saw wherever he looked: the sterile, life-denying strain of puritanism that he believed was strangling the culture of his native land.

No modern writer has been more controversial than H. L. Mencken. His fans saw him as the fearless leader of the endless battle against ignorance and hypocrisy, while his enemies dismissed him as a cantankerous, self-righteous ideologue. The surging popularity of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the politician he hated most, eventually caused his star to fade, but the unsparing vigor of his critique of American life and letters -- and the raucously colloquial prose style in which he blasted the Babbitts -- retains its freshness and relevance to this day.

Himself an accomplished critic and journalist, Terry Teachout has combed through reams of Mencken's private papers, including the searingly candid autobiographical manuscripts sealed after his death in 1956. Out of this material he has fashioned a portrait of the artist as intellectual gadfly, working newspaperman, devoted husband, and faithless ]over. Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and completely absorbing, The Skeptic vividly evokes the life and legacy of a true American legend.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Journalist, muckraker, political gadfly, atheist, and conservative dissident, H.L. Mencken "was to the first part of the twentieth century what Mark Twain was to the last part of the nineteenth--the quintessential voice of American letters." So says the eminent critic Terry Teachout in this landmark biography, which explores why Mencken has been largely forgotten today.

Mencken held to ideas that history was busily sweeping aside. He railed against the growing power of the federal government in the early years of the Roosevelt administration, insisting on an elitist brand of politics that favored the "superior man." He advocated an isolationist course in world affairs, even as totalitarian powers swallowed up whole nations; he agitated against progressive domestic causes; and, albeit ironically, he proposed that capital punishment be turned into a public entertainment. Yet he wrote some of the best, most cruelly entertaining journalism of his time, reporting on great trials, minor crimes, and political conventions, skewering received opinion.

Mencken was "something more than a memorable stylist, if something less than a wise man," Teachout concludes. This careful portrait--the first full-length biography to appear in more than 30 years--gives ample evidence for that verdict. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Terry Teachout writes about literature and the arts for the New York Times, Time, National Review, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Commentary. His books include A Second Mencken Chrestomaby, a manuscript he rediscovered among Mencken's private papers. He lives in New York City.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Terry Teachout
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller
stressfreebooks
(Bay City, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Brand new copy. Ships fast secure, expedited available!. Bookseller Inventory # 3UBCFO00058T

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 5.34
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Teachout, Terry
Published by Harper
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Brats Bargain Books
(Waresboro, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060505281 Never Read-12+ year old Hardcover book with dust jacket-may have light shelf or handling wear-has a price sticker or price written inside front or back cover-publishers mark-Good Copy- I ship FAST with FREE tracking!. Bookseller Inventory # SKU000037668

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 5.35
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.59
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Terry Teachout
Published by Harper (2002)
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Poverty Hill Books
(La Grange, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. HARDCOVER, BRAND NEW COPY, Perfect Shape, No Black Remainder Mark,Fast Shipping With Online Tracking, International Orders shipped Global Priority Air Mail, All orders handled with care and shipped promptly in secure packaging, we ship Mon-Sat and send shipment confirmation emails. Our customer service is friendly, we answer emails fast, accept returns and work hard to deliver 100% Customer Satisfaction!. Bookseller Inventory # 9017878

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 10.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Terry Teachout
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Castle Rock
(Pittsford, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800605052881.0

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 15.43
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Terry Teachout
Published by Harper (2002)
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060505281

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.39
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Teachout, Terry
Published by Harper 2002-11-05 (2002)
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
M and N Media
(Acworth, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper 2002-11-05, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1. 0060505281 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # TM-0060505281

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 18.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Teachout, Terry
Published by Harper (2002)
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0060505281

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 28.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Teachout, Terry
Published by HarperCollins, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (2002)
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller
PORT HOLE BOOKS and PUBLISHING
(Florence, OR, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. new first edition hard back with new dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 030208

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 25.00
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Teachout, Terry
Published by Harper (2002)
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 3
Seller
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110060505281

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 28.77
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 2.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Teachout, Terry
Published by Harper
ISBN 10: 0060505281 ISBN 13: 9780060505288
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Cloud 9 Books
(Wellington, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060505281 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1018869

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 59.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds