Books: Whose Language?

THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE: Fourth Edition, Corrected, Enlarged and Rewritten— H. L. Mencken—Knopf ($5).

Henry Louis Mencken has filled some 15 books and countless heads with his brilliant palaver. The Billiken-god of a generation that read his Smart Set like so many monthly revelations, he emancipated many a corn-fed adolescent. Mencken was an iconoclastic prophet but not an indignant one. "As an American," he said once, "I naturally spend most of my time laugh-ing." And his brilliance, like that of his fellow-iconoclast, Bernard Shaw, has not always done him justice. Some of his trumpetings...

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