Portrait of a Curmudgeon

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Henry Louis Mencken wasn’t always on the outs with America. At the height of his powers in the 1920s, Mencken’s magazine, The American Mercury, was the journal to be caught reading.

That didn’t dissuade the professionally dyspeptic Mencken from dismissing most of America, including its leaders and his readers, as citizens of a provincial Never Never Land he called Moronia.

But 50 years after his death, a decade after the publication of the diaries that shocked even his admirers with their passages full of prejudice and backstabbing, Mencken’s literary appeal endures.


Terry Teachout, author of “The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken”