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Henry Louis Mencken

Mencken was born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland, where he rose to fame as a author and critic in the early 20th Century. Influenced by Nietzsche and Gourmont, Mencken regularly excoriated American bourgeois culture in his writing.

Related Links: A Mencken Cornucopia

Showing 1 through 21 of 21 quotations by Henry Louis Mencken.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"All great religions, in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent, who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely. The most satisfying and ecstatic faith is almost purely agnostic. It trusts absolutely without professing to know at all."
-H. L. Mencken


"I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"Truth would quickly cease to become stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all."
-H. L. Mencken


"The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind."
-H. L. Mencken


"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."
-H. L. Mencken


"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on 'I am not too sure.'"
-H. L. Mencken


"On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
-H. L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Sun, July 26, 1920


"For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together. Our friends seldom profit us but they make us feel safe... Marriage is a scheme to accomplish exactly that same end."
-H. L. Mencken


"Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"Immorality: The morality of those who are having a better time."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"A man always remembers his first love with special tenderness, but after that he begins to bunch them."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable."
-H. L. Mencken

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"A man always blames the woman who fools him. In the same way he blames the door he walks into in the dark."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"Don't overestimate the decency of the human race."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated."
-Henry Louis Mencken


"Most people want security in this world, not liberty."
-H. L. Mencken


"The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable."
-H. L. Mencken






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