“I am suspicious of all the things that the average people believe.”
H.L. Mencken (1880–1956) is the kind of guy you wish you could become whenever you’re confronted by a vociferous pinhead. Few wits as crystal as his are bestowed among men. More abrasive dispositions are even scarcer. But no worries – just memorize a few H.L. Mencken quotes to pass off as your own, and you’ll be able to trounce ninnies with the best of them.
Henry Louis Mencken was a “literary fella” (to borrow a term coined by one of his contemporaries) who wrote essays, satire and cultural critiques. As a journalist Mencken worked for The Herald, The Baltimore Sun and The American Mercury, the last of which he co-founded. He famously covered the Scopes Monkey Trial, and indeed is the one who gave it that name.
Mencken was cynical about religion, especially the Elmer Gantry brand of Christianity which commonly bred under giant striped tents during his day. (He was good friends with Sinclair Lewis who wrote it.) Mencken was cynical about a lot of things, including quackery like chiropractic, American involvement in both World Wars, and democracy in particular. The Nietzschean scholar called democracy“the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.” To him, democracy was a thing which impotent dolts mistook for actual power as they welcomed a succession of crooks to rule over them. Music to a libertarian’s ears.
Mencken’s writing is remarkably similar to that of Mark Twain, of whom he was a great fan, as well as Ambrose Bierce whose faux dictionary entries he paid frequent homage to. If you’d like to dip your big toe into Mencken’s staggeringly large body of work, you’d best start with The Vintage Mencken complied by Alistair Cooke. If you’d like to spend just a few minutes with Mencken at his very best, please proceed.
Best H.L. Mencken Quotes
I skipped all the H.L. Mencken quotes about married life, because Libertas Bella doesn’t generally concern itself with such dark topics. But I feel I have to include one of the very best: “Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn’t they’d be married too.” Don’t tell that one to your wife or she might whomp you over the head with a rolling pin – or probably some less archaic cooking utensil, like a panini press. Those can hurt even worse when they’re plugged in.