Damn! A Book of Calumny: Essays of Abuse and Vituperation

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9781495967061: Damn! A Book of Calumny: Essays of Abuse and Vituperation
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"The average man is far too stupid to make a joke. He may see a joke and love a joke, particularly when it floors and flabbergasts some person he dislikes, but the only way he can himself take part in the priming and pointing of a new one is by acting as its target. In brief, his personal contact with humor tends to fill him with an accumulated sense of disadvantage, of pricked complacency, of sudden and crushing defeat; and so, by an easy psychological process, he is led into the idea that the thing itself is incompatible with true dignity of character and intellect. Hence his deep suspicion of jokers, however adept their thrusts. “What a damned fool!”—this same half-pitying tribute he pays to wit and butt alike. He cannot separate the virtuoso of comedy from his general concept of comedy itself, and that concept is inextricably mingled with memories of foul ambuscades and mortifying hurts. And so it is not often that he is willing to admit any wisdom in a humorist, or to condone frivolity in a sage."

Table of Contents I. Pater Patriae II: The Reward of the Artist III: The Heroic Considered IV: The Burden of Humor V: The Saving Grace VI: Moral Indignation VII: Stable-Names VIII: The Jews IX: The Comstockian Premiss X: The Labial Infamy XI: A True Ascetic XII: On Lying XIII: History XIV: The Curse of Civilization XV: Eugenics XVI: The Jocose Gods XVII: War XVIII: Moralist and Artist XIX: Actors XX: The Crowd XXI: An American Philosopher XXII: Clubs XXIII: Fidelis Ad Urnum XXIV: A Theological Mystery XXV: The Test of Truth XXVI: Literary Indecencies XXVII: Virtuous Vandalism XXVIII: A Footnote on the Duel of Sex XXIX: Alcohol XXX: Thoughts on the Voluptuous XXXI: The Holy Estate XXXII: Dichtung und Wahrheit XXXIII: Wild Shots XXXIV: Beethoven XXXV: The Tone Art XXXVI: Zoos XXXVII: On Hearing Mozart XXXVIII: The Road to Doubt XXXIX: A New Use for Churches XL: The Root of Religion XLI: Free Will XLII: Quid est Veritas? XLIII: The Doubter’s Reward XLIV: Before the Altar XLV: The Mask XLVI: Pia Veneziani, Poi Cristiani XLVII: Off Again, On Again XLVIII: Theology XLIX: Exempli Gratia

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About the Author:

H.L. MENCKEN (1880-1956), Baltimore journalist, critic, and essayist, began his career on local newspapers in 1899, becoming editor of the Evening Herald in 1905-6, then serving on the staff of the Evening Sun during 1916-17 as a war correspondent in Germany. He became literary critic of The Smart Set in 1908, and was co-editor of this lively periodical with George Jean Nathan. Mencken and Nathan also founded The American Mercury in 1924, which Mencken edited until 1933. Mencken is best known for the aggressive iconoclasm of his editorial policies in these magazines, especially during the decade following World War I, when he exhibited a savagely satirical reaction against the political and cultural imperfections of the time.

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