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Collected Poems: H. L. Mencken

Mencken, H. L. w/intro by S. T. Joshi (editor)

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ISBN 10: 0982429630 / ISBN 13: 9780982429631
Published by Mencken, H. L. w/intro by S. T. Joshi (editor)., Hippocampus Press, nd, c2009,, 2009
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1st Edition, illus. soft cover, new, 145 pp w/indexes & notes, 8vo, ".for the first time, collected the entirety of Mencken's verse.", $15.00. Bookseller Inventory # 202738

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Collected Poems: H. L. Mencken

Publisher: Mencken, H. L. w/intro by S. T. Joshi (editor)., Hippocampus Press, nd, c2009,

Publication Date: 2009

Binding: Soft cover

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


H. L. Mencken was perhaps the leading literary and cultural critic of the 1920s, and his books, magazine articles, and newspaper writing have given him a wide and enduring celebrity. Just about the last literary form that most readers would have expected Mencken to have attempted is poetry; and yet, in his early literary career, he wrote dozens of poems for a variety of publications. His very first book, Ventures into Verse (1903), was a slim collection of poetry. But that volume constitutes less than a third of Mencken's total output of poetry. Leading Mencken scholar S. T. Joshi has now, for the first time, collected the entirety of Mencken's verse, ranging from patriotic poems in the manner of Kipling, to satirical poems poking fun at politicians, actresses, and the institution of marriage, to surprisingly touching poems on romance, the seasons, and other subjects. Mencken exhibited an enviable skill in the handling of complex verse forms, and he also found the multifarious events of his day-from the Boer War to the Boxer Rebellion to the anti-liquor crusades of Carry Nation-fodder for his poetical pen. Mencken's many devotess can now sample the full range of his work as poet and poetical satirist. H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) is best known for his critical essays, collected in Prejudices (1919-27) and many other volumes, as well as his journalism for the Baltimore Evening Sun and other papers. His total output of writing comes to more than 12 million words. S. T. Joshi is a leading authority on Mencken and the editor of H. L. Mencken on American Literature (2002), Mencken's America (2004), and other volumes. He has recently published a new bibliography of Mencken (2009).

From Publishers Weekly:

Only Mencken completists will be interested in reading this collection of the social critic's verse. As Mencken authority Joshi (H.L. Mencken on American Literature) observes in his introduction, Mencken himself was dissatisfied with most of the poems he produced. Joshi fails adequately to support his argument that "the early writings of any author as important as Mencken deserve our attention for the hints they may offer of the great work to come." Readers will search jingoistic and racist poems for such hints of greatness in vain ("Wu Ting Fang/You and Li Hung Chang/Are a pair of mighty mystifying chinks!"). Placing the editor's end notes adjacent to the individual poems to provide some context would have been preferable, but no amount of scholarly rejiggering can transform a poem about William Jennings Bryan with the line "Oh! Willie Billy, your trail is hilly" into something significant.
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