Publisher Information: Baltimore: 1916.
Mencken, Henry Louis (1880-1956). Typed letter signed to J. Gilman D'Arcy Paul (1893-1960). 2 pages. Baltimore, n.d. . 152 x 217 mm. Light soiling and creasing, lower edges a bit frayed, but very good.
Excellent and characteristically acerbic letter from satirist and critic H. L. Mencken, regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the first half of the 20th century. His correspondent was Gilman D'Arcy Paul, a journalist, diplomat and civic leader in Baltimore.
The letter opens with a brief discussion of the merits of Mencken's great friend Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945), whom Mencken championed despite acknowledging Dreiser's faults as a novelist:
". . . You tell the horrible truth about Dreiser with surgical accuracy, but he still remains the best of the corn-fed herd. There is something Mary MacLaneish about him: his self-revelations are immense. Howells is too discreet and shallow. James is merely a fifth-rate Englishman. Dreiser really belongs to our fair republic, and shows the Knight of Pythias complex. I wish you knew him. He is more fun than a massacre."
The other authors referred to here are William Dean Howells (1837-1920), Henry James (1843-1916) and Canadian writer Mary MacLane (1881-1929), author of several scandalous "confessional" memoirs. The Knights of Pythias is an American fraternal organization devoted to the ideals of loyalty, honor and friendship.The letter goes on to mention one of Mencken's forthcoming books (not named here, but probably the first series of his Prejudices) and touches on his pacifist politics:
"My book will not appear until after the war. If I printed it now it would have to be expurgated to the point of inanity . . . I shall hold it, insert the ghastly truth, and then throw it overboard while the coroner's jury is still sitting."I am 36, overweight, suffer from diabetes, chilblains and malaria, and am conscientiously opposed to war, Woodrow [Wilson] and capital punishment. Let the storm rage!"
Mencken ends by recommending Willard H. Wright's Misinforming a Nation (1917), a diatribe against the Anglophilia of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; Wright's views would have meshed well with Mencken's own distrust of British "propaganda." Mencken was Wright's patron and mentor, and had helped the younger author obtain a position as culture columnist for the New York Evening Mail.Book Id: 42139