6.3.2021 – deal with any subject

deal with any subject
remain both readable and
irresponsible

Part of the Mencken Project.

In 1911, HL Mencken was offered a column in by the owner/publisher of the Baltimore Sun, Charles H. Grasty.

Grasty told him Mencken to write ANYTHING he liked and to deal with ANY SUBJECT just so long as the column was irresponsible and readable.

Do such job offers exist any more?

One commenter writes: “On May 8, 1911, H. L. Mencken began a column in the Baltimore Evening Sun entitled “The World in Review.” The next day he retitled it “The Free Lance”—and continued writing the column six days a week for the next four and a half years. This enormous body of work, totaling about 1200 columns and amounting to 1.5 million words, is an incredibly rich storehouse of Mencken’s opinions on a wide array of topics. In some columns he addresses serious issues: the distressing prevalence of typhoid in the larger American cities, including Baltimore; the pestiferous influence of the Anti-Saloon League in promoting prohibition of alcoholic beverages; and all manner of political malfeasance both locally and nationally. But in most of his columns he displays his pungent satirical wit, lampooning poetasters, self-righteous moralists, and political and literary hacks of every description. In several columns Mencken begins outlining his views of the “American language,” the distinctive slang that Americans have adopted as a departure from formal English; Mencken later wrote a landmark treatise on the subject. Throughout these columns, H. L. Mencken displays the perspicacity and penchant for humor and satire that made him the greatest journalist of his day.”

Such is one of the reasons for the Mencken Project.

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