Books: Fun Among the Philistines

MENCKEN by Carl Bode. 452 pages. Southern Illinois University. $10.

It takes an effort of mind to recall the time, not so very long ago, when America was still something like a collection of small towns, and a provincial newspaperman named Henry Louis Mencken was its national cracker-barrel atheist. It is, moreover, a matter for wonder that Mencken, who dressed like the gallused boors he despised, chewed cigars like a Tammany clubhouse character and had tastes that ran to beer and bawdy jokes, was ever regarded as the epitome of metropolitan sophistication. The term smart set, which was the title of his...

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