My life as author and editor

Front Cover
Knopf, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 449 pages
2 Reviews
After thirty-five years in a sealed vault, the autobiography of America's great social and literary critic now comes to light, edited and with an introduction by Jonathan Yardley. H. L. Mencken stipulated in his will that the manuscript not be read for thirty-five years so that no one mentioned in its pages would still be alive on publication, thus giving the author the freedom to write what he pleased. The narrative contains many profiles and reminiscences covering Mencken's years in the magazine world, particularly with the Smart Set, which he co-edited with George Jean Nathan. The heart of the book, however, lies in the descriptions of the relationships - rivalries, feuds, friendships and mentorships - that Mencken carried on with many of the significant writers of the twentieth century, including Theodore Dreiser, James Joyce, Willa Cather, Ezra Pound, Eugene O'Neill, Frank Harris, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley and Sinclair Lewis. Full of wonderfully revealing anecdotes and biting observations, these pages are spiked with his trademark outrageous and pugnacious wit, as well as his alarming frankness. Although the memoir breaks off in the early 1920's because of a stroke he suffered in 1948, it contributes significantly to our understanding of the legendary literary era of which he was at the center. It also makes abundantly clear - if proof were ever needed - why he was our greatest social commentator, and why he has had an enduring impact on American society and letters.

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Review: My Life As Author And Editor

User Review  - Greg Bischoff - Goodreads

Thought it was quite interesting. He shows a side of some authors that one does not always realize or see. Just had this problem with him being a bit full of himself. Read full review

Review: My Life As Author And Editor

User Review  - Goodreads

Thought it was quite interesting. He shows a side of some authors that one does not always realize or see. Just had this problem with him being a bit full of himself. Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
10
Section 3
36
Copyright

25 other sections not shown

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About the author (1993)

H.L. Mencken was born in Baltimore, Maryland, a city he considered home despite his many years in New York. As a child he attended Professor Friedrich Knapp's Institute, a private school for children of German descent. He completed his secondary education at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, from which he graduated at the age of 16. Mencken wanted to be a writer but was obligated to work in his father's cigar factory. When his father died suddenly in 1899, Mencken immediately sought a job at the Baltimore Herald. Through he began with no experience in journalism, he quickly learned every job at the newspaper and at age 25 became its editor. Mencken went on to build himself a reputation as one of America's most brilliant writers and literary critics. His basic approach was to question everything and to accept no limits on personal freedom. He attacked organized religion, American cultural and literary standards, and every aspect of American life that he found shallow, ignorant, or false - which was almost everything. From the 1920's until his death, Mencken's sharp wit and penetrating social commentary made him one of the most highly regarded - and fiercely hated - of American social critics. He was later memorialized in the dramatic portrait of the cynical journalist in the play and film Inherit the Wind. Shortly after World War I, Mencken began a project that was to fascinate him for the rest of his life: a study of American language and how it had evolved from British English. In 1919 he published The American Language: A Preliminary Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States. To this and his publisher's surprise, the book sold out quickly; its wit and nonscholarly approach attracted many readers who would not normally buy a book on such a subject. In 1936, a revised and enlarged edition was published, and in 1945 and 1948, supplements were added. The work shows not only how American English differs from British English but how the 300 year American experience shaped American dialect. Thus the book, still considered a classic in its field, is both a linguistic and social history of the United States.

Booth Tarkington (18691946), born in Indianapolis, is best known for the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Magnificent Ambersons,"
Jonathan Yardley is a book critic and columnist for the "Washington Post," He has written six books and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism.

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