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MenckenThe American Iconoclast$
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Marion Elizabeth Rodgers

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195072389

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195072389.001.0001

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Chapter:
(p.190) 18 OVER HERE
Source:
Mencken
Author(s):

Marion Elizabeth Rodgers

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195072389.003.0019

The war's impact on free speech at home, along with Attorney General Mitchell Palmer's brutal raids on suspected radicals, intensified Mencken's belief in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But with America at war, the New York Evening Mail closed to him, and The Smart Set in peril, Mencken took on a neutral subject that would forever after identify him as a uniquely American voice: a study of The American Language. Simultaneously, he launched Prejudices, a series of essays attacking the Genteel Tradition in literature and intellectual cowardice. After the war, he returned to the Baltimore Sun, his books were widely embraced, and he became hailed as an important new critic. In 1919, Mencken came to the realization that he lived not in a literary age, but a fiercely political age.

Keywords:   patriotism, The American Language, censorship, Palmer Raids, American Protective League, Prejudices, Alfred Knopf

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