Cover of A Book Of Prefaces

A Book Of Prefaces

Auhtor: H Mencken

Language: english
Published: 1917

Genres:

essays
Downloads: 201
eBook size: 194Kb

Review by Stephen M. Charme, April 2008


Rating: (***)
Copyright: Public Domain in the U.S.
Please check the copyright status in your country.

Summary of the Book 'A Book Of Prefaces':

A Book of Prefaces is H. L. Menckens 1917 collection of essays criticizing American culture authors and movements. Mencken describing this work as My My most important book in its effects upon my professional career. In fact the book was considered vitriolic enough that Menckens close friend Alfred Knopf was concerned about publishing it because of the massive increase in patriotism during World War I in America. The book was short a brief eighty pages divided into four essays. The four subjects included Theodore Dreiser Joseph Conrad and James Gibbons Huneker. But perhaps the most important and certainly the most outspoken essay was entitled Puritanism as a Literary Force during which he alleged that William Dean Howells Henry James and Mark Twain were victims of the Puritan spirit. The Puritans utter lack of aesthetic sense his distrust of all romantic emotion his unmatchable intolerance of opposition his unbreakable belief in his own bleak and narrow views his savage cruelty of attack his lust for relentless and barbarous persecution-- these things have put an almost unbearable burden up on the exchange of ideas in the United States. Mencken had criticized Puritanism for many years famously characterizing it as the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy but through World War I his criticism became increasingly outspoken in part due to the rising tide of Prohibition. Menckens book triggered the imagination of a famous American author. As a teen first entering the world of reading and books in the early 1920s Richard Wright found literary inspiration in A Book of Prefaces.

Excerpts from the Book 'A Book Of Prefaces':


... Nachtasyl. Or Frank Norris' McTeague. Or Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel. Or the ironical fables of Dunsany. Or Dreiser's Jennie Gerhardt. Or ...
... craves inevitably a more confident and comforting view of the world than Conrad has to offer. It seeks, not disillusion, but illusion. It protects ...
... credited, of late, to so-called Reds. Youth, as a story, is no more than an orthodox sea story, and W. Clark Russell contrived better ones. ...
... won, and English literature reaped the greatest of all its usufructs from English sea power. To this day there are marks of his origins in his style. ...
... of the pedagogues had been fought through in school and college: Dickens, Thackeray, Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Kingsley, Scott. Only Irving and ...
... coming after The Titan, marks the high tide of his bad writing. There are passages in it so clumsy, so inept, so irritating that they seem almost ...
... mirthless, sedulous, repellent manner, in the face of the Athenian tragedy he instils into his seduced and soul-sick servant girls, his barbaric pirates ...
... In the midst of the story, as I have said, the author forgets it, and starts off upon another. In Jennie Gerhardt there is no such flaccidity of structure, ...
... best, might have carried out with undoubted success. What he is trying to show, in brief, is the battle that goes on in the soul of every man of active ...
... snouted out, empanelled, exhibited. Every hint that Witla is no vestal, that he indulges his unchristian fleshliness, that he burns in the ...
... it upon the beery melancholy visible in parts of that book. Who but a German sheds tears over the empty bottles of day before yesterday, the Adelaide ...
... noticeable weakness is a too easy acquiescence in the empty showiness of Saint-Sa?ns, a tendency to bow to the celebrated French parlour magician too ...
... the golden age of Rosa Bonheur's The Horse Fair, he was expounding the principles of the post-impressionists. In the midst of the Sousa marches he whooped ...
... mysteries is still a moral one, and no other human concern gets half the attention that is endlessly lavished upon the problem of conduct, particularly ...
... and even the modes of expression of his poetry in the arduous, contentious and highly melodramatic life that lay all about him. Whitman, however, was ...
... appeared the collection basket. Instead of accusing himself, the convert volunteered to track down and bring in the other fellow. His enthusiasm was ...
... with such ferocity that seven of them were driven to suicide. And in another city, after a campaign of repression so unfortunate in its effects that ...
... see no more than an affectation. The reform organization of 1876 lasted but five years and then disbanded without having accomplished anything Train ...
... More in Clemens, our Swift in Henry James, our Horace Walpole in Woodberry, Robinson et al., our Cowpers, Southeys and Crabbes perhaps we might ...
... prosecution. (Port Jervis, N. Y., Evening Gazette, March 22, 1879.) Moreover, a juror in the case, Alfred A. Valentine, thought it necessary to inform ...