Henry Louis Mencken, 1880 - 1956
Autographed "For Lionel A. Aucoin, H. L. Mencken 1937"
Born: 12 September 1880, Baltimore, Maryland
Died: 29 January 1956, Baltimore, Maryland
The son of a cigar merchant, Mencken worked for his father's company but gave it up for journalism when his father died, although he never gave up cigars. His clear wording, insight, and wit puts him in the same class with Shaw and Voltaire, and for the same reasons I've saved a lot of his quotes.
In A Mencken Chrestomathy he recorded a collection of 176 "maxims, epigrams and apothegms" which he titled Sententiae, which I have saved as a separate collection.
Biography from Wikipedia
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are often "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Henry Louis Mencken quotes:
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- A comedian is not an actor: he is a sort of reductio ad absurdum of an actor. His work bears the same relation to acting properly as that of a hangman, a midwife, or a divorce lawyer bears to poetry, or that of a Bishop to religion. permalink
"the comedian", Baltimore Evening Sun (18 November 1929)
- A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin. permalink
- A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. permalink
Prejudices: Fourth Series (1925)
- A home is not a mere transient shelter: its essence lies in the personalities of the people who live in it. permalink
- A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable. permalink
- A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; a woman loses hers after four kisses. permalink
- A man's women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as an ass, and with something akin to pity. His most gaudy sayings and doings seldom deceive them; they see the actual man within, and know him for a shallow and pathetic fellow. In this fact, perhaps, lies one of the best proofs of feminine intelligence, or, as the common phrase makes it, feminine intuition. permalink
- A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground. permalink
- A prohibitionist is the sort of man one wouldn't care to drink with — even if he drank. permalink
- A society made up of individuals who were all capable of original thought would probably be unendurable. permalink
- A sound American is simply one who has put out of his mind all doubts and questionings, and who accepts instantly, and as incontrovertible gospel, the whole body of official doctrine of his day, whatever it may be and no matter how often it may change. permalink
- A woman usually respects her father, but her view of her husband is mingled with contempt, for she is of course privy to the transparent devices by which she snared him. permalink
"Wagner", Smart Set (July 1922)
- Absence is the dark-room in which lovers develop negatives. permalink
included in Mencken's A New Dictionary of Quotations (1942) as" Author Unknown", believed to be original
- All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. permalink
- All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. permalink
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