A Book of Prefaces

A Book of Prefaces

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A Book of Prefaces by H. L. Mencken

Published:

1917

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A Book of Prefaces

By

4
(1 Review)
A collection of essays criticizing American culture, authors, and movements.I. Joseph ConradII. Theodore DreiserIII. James HunekerIV. Puritanism as a Literary Force

Book Excerpt

of it spring the two rules which give direction to all popular thinking, the first being that no concept in politics or conduct is valid (or more accurately respectable), which rises above the comprehension of the great masses of men, or which violates any of their inherent prejudices or superstitions, and the second being that the articulate individual in the mob takes on some of the authority and inspiration of the mob itself, and that he is thus free to set himself up as a soothsayer, so long as he does not venture beyond the aforesaid bounds--in brief, that one man's opinion, provided it observe the current decorum, is as good as any other man's.

Practically, of course, this is simply an invitation to quackery. The man of genuine ideas is hedged in by taboos; the quack finds an audience already agape. The reply to the invitation, in the domain of applied ethics, is the revived and reinforced Sklavenmoral that besets all of us of English speech--the huggermugger morality of timorous, whinin

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