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A Historical Treasure: the never-before, published diary of the most outspoken, iconoclastic, ferociously articulate of American social critics -- the sui generis newspaperman, columnist for the Baltimore Sun, editor of The American Mercury, and author of The American Language, who was admired, feared, and famous for his merciless puncturing of smugness, his genius for deflating pomposity and pretense, his polemical brilliance. Walter Lippmann called him, in 1926, "the most powerful personal influence on this whole generation of educated Americans." H. L. Mencken's diary was, at his own request, kept sealed in the vaults of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Library for a quarter of a century after his death. The diary covers the years 1930 -- 1948, and provides a vivid, unvarnished, sometimes shocking picture of Mencken himself, his world, and his friends and antagonists, from Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and William Faulkner to Franklin D. Roosevelt, for whom Mencken nourished a hatred that resulted in spectacular and celebrated feats of invective. From the more than 2,000 pages of typescript that have now come to light, the Mencken scholar Charles A. Fecher has made a generous selection of entries carefully chosen to preserve the whole range, color, and impact of the diary. Here, full scale, is Mencken the unique observer and disturber of American society. And here too is Mencken the human being of wildly contradictory impulses: the skeptic who was prey to small superstitions, the dare-all warrior who was a hopeless hypochondriac, the loving husband and generous friend who was, alas, a bigot. Mencken emerges from these pages unretouched -- in all the often outrageous gadfly vitality that made him, at his brilliant best, so important to the intellectual fabric of American life.
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