The original goal of this work was to clarify Mencken's views on women as inconsistently presented in newspaper columns, reviews, and plays.
According to Mencken's biographer ''...he was either a great defender of women's rights or, as a critic labelled him in 1916, 'the greatest misogynist since Schopenhauer','the country's high-priest of woman-haters.'''
even the trade in public offices and contracts, occupies the rulers of the land so steadily, or makes heavier demands upon their ingenuity and their patriotic passion.
Familiar with the risks flowing out of it--and having just had to change the plates of my "Book of Prefaces," a book of purely literary criticism, wholly without political purpose or significance, in order to get it through the mails, I determined to make this brochure upon the woman question extremely pianissimo in tone, and to avoid burdening it with any ideas of an unfamiliar, and hence illegal nature. So deciding, I presently added a bravura touch: the unquenchable vanity of the intellectual snob asserting itself over all prudence. That is to say, I laid down the rule that no idea should go into the book that was not already so obvious that it had been embodied in the proverbial philosophy, or folk-wisdom, of some civilized nation, including the Chinese. To this rule I remained faithful throughout. In its original form, as publish
Mencken is not so much a misogynist as he is a misanthrope. He hates humanity: Men for their stupidity and sentimentality, and women for their superior intellect, more sensitive aesthetic sense, and for their ruthlessness.
He has a wonderful vocabulary, which makes the typos in the book more distracting than usual. It could have been shorter--he made his case early--but it was an enjoyable read.
This is very funny. It's impossible to decide if Mencken is a feminist or a misogynist. Probably both. This book is still largely relevant.
Any young man contemplating marriage should read this with great attention!
Mencken did not hate women....but he knew them well...