Mencken and Hatrack
April 5, 2005 7:41 AM Subscribe
Today is the anniversary of the famous Hatrack case, in which H.L. Mencken was arrested for selling indecent literature in Boston. (Herbert Asbury, the author of the Hatrack story, was largely forgotten, except for this incident, until Scorsese made his novel in Gangs of New York.) The case was just one episode in the career of an American literary giant, reporter, columnist, and editor. Gore Vidal said, "Mencken is a nice antidote. Politically, he is often right but seldom correct by today's stern standards." This is perhaps the best website devoted to Mencken, with extensive links. Particularly recommended are The Hills of Zion, part of his coverage of the Scopes trial; and his obituary savaging William Jennings Bryan. If you've never read Mencken it's almost impossible to convey how well-written, incisive and funny his writing really is.
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