"DRIPS WITH THE JUICES OF THE KIWANIS, THE AMERICAN LEGION, THE KU KLUX,
…THE SONS OF THE REVOLUTION AND THE Y.M.C.A. IT IS GENUINE HOME-BREW"
MENCKEN, H. L. Americana 1925. New York, Knopf, 1925. Octavo, original black cloth with gilt titles, original gray dust jacket with dark green lettering. $1250.
Fine first edition of Mencken's first collection, from the "Americana" section of The American Mercury.
From the "Americana" section of The American Mercury, featuring short news items from each of the then-48 states in alphabetical order, followed by Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines and "Porto Rico." Mencken, founder of The American Mercury with George Jean Nathan in 1924, and editor until 1933, explains his intent in the Preface: "But those who see only humor in these fantastic paragraphs see only half that is in them. Fundamentally nine-tenths of them are… presented here for a quite serious purpose… [T]o make the enlightened minority of Americans familiar, by documentary evidence, with what is going on in the minds of the masses — the great herd of undifferentiated, good-humored, goose-stepping, superstitious, sentimental, credulous, striving, romantic American people. Some of the ideas cherished by that herd are obviously insane. Many others stand in sharp opposition to everything that civilized men regard as decorous and for the common weal. But it must be obvious that no headway can be made in opposing and changing those ideas until it is known clearly what they are. The following collection is presented as material to that end… It strikes notes that are as unmistakably American as the sound of a jazz band, a revival hymn or a college yell. It drips with the juices of the Kiwanis, the American Legion, the Ku Klux, Rotary, the Mystic Shrine, the Elks, the Sons of the Revolution and the Y. M. C. A. It is genuine home-brew." With two appendices: "In Partibus Infidelium" (4 pages of international items), and "Notes for Foreign Students" (Mencken's sardonic comments on the salient characteristics of each state), with a "Glossary" of terms peculiar to the U.S.
Book near-fine with a couple tiny nicks to cloth in a fine dust jacket.