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In Defense of Marion: The Love of Marion Bloom and H. L. Mencken
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In Defense of Marion: The Love of Marion Bloom and H. L. Mencken

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This documentary history chronicles what in duration and volatile intensity was the most important love relationship in H.L. Mencken's life, one that he tried to obscure and hoped would remain buried within the copious record of his achievements as author and editor. The love between Marion Bloom and Mencken flourished during a period when he wrote frequently about women's...more
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by University of Georgia Press (first published 1922)
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Ian
Dec 04, 2007 Ian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, especially men, especially pussy-whipped men
this book is hilarious! a breakdown of the methods women use to exploit the stupidity of men for their own gain. while it constantly credits women with being more intelligent, resourceful, clear-headed and practical than men, it also drives home the point that in general men don't benefit from feminine influence, instead they have their energy depleted and their potential squandered. harsh, offensive to both sexes, and funny as hell.
Joe
In the past, when I've heard someone claim "Satire is dead," I usually put up all these protestations, refutations, etc. I should have kept my mouth shut until I read Mencken. Haven't seen too much like this around lately: "Even prostitution, in the long run, may become a more or less respectable profession, as it was in the days of the Greeks. That quality will surely attach to it if ever it grows quite unnecessary; whatever is unnecessary is always respectable, for example, religion, fashionab...more
Hansen Wendlandt
“Women are despicable; but women are better than men; therefore, men are very despicable.” (introduction, x)
Mencken is best known for clever quotations about people’s general ignorance, cultural failures and radical political solutions. Here, somewhere amidst all three of those, he turns his attention and vindictive pen towards the sociology of gender. The book begins this way: “A man’s women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as...more
Ian
Absolutely phenomenoal. For a century-old book, the wisdom here has aged most remarkably well. Mencken exposes a lot of timeless ideas that we'd be well served to remember nowadays with most cunning wit. I'd rather quote extensively from the book than write further. For example take this opening paragraph of the book:

"As a professional critic of life and letters, my principal business in the world is that of manufacturing platitudes for tomorrow, which is to say, ideas so novel that they will be...more
James
This book had a few working titles before "In Defense of Women" was settled upon. I hardly think its a good title, but it is an amusing read. If you like Mencken, you'll like this book, because it is of course classic Mencken. He spends equal time on offense against women (or more likely offending them), as he does defending them, with that being said, he spends far more time criticizing men and explaining the superior intellect and upper hand women have over them. The central theme seems to be...more
Carol Apple
I give it four stars for Mencken's wicked humor and skillful writing. But I cannot think of a single person to whom I would recommend it. It goes places you probably shouldn't go and is guaranteed to offend pretty much everyone. Even though "In Defense of Women" was published in 1918 when the social and employment prospects for women were far different that they are now, there are parts that will reach in and stab you where it hurts even in our current era of enlightenment. Read it only if you h...more
Paul
I got the impression this work was originally meant as satire, but Mencken's personal biases got the better of him as he went along. It comes off as more of an indictment of the rubes he disdains than an actual defense of the fairer sex.
One Flew
I like Mencken but I just couldn't like this book. The subject matter was always going to make it a difficult book to pull off. There I did appreciate the humour at times and there was some great insight at times, the book fell flat for me. Mencken comes to a lot of ludicrous conclusions that are not only dated but also far fetched. A good example is the concept that great men don't marry, which is based of a small handful of historical figures. Also there are just too many generalisations regar...more
Dion
What is to be said? It is proof that Mencken is the pinnacle of unsentimental writing. You find his thoughts crude, or otherwise prejudiced? He would say the same of your character and be utterly unphased.

This title is a remarkable piece that unveils many of the timeless and unassailable blemishes that we generously implore art and convention to please disguise for us. For men, it is that we are a race of romantic bamboozlers, who despite our Math SAT scores, are hopelessly incompetent at seein...more
Morad
A smart witty intriguing original read.
I may not agree with all his ideas maybe because as I've a more conservative perception of marriage, monogamy and prostitution. Still find the book very interesting and important for the way we understand women and their side of a relationship, marriage, work or even religion.

The book is generally based on the idea that an average woman is essentially stronger than the average man in the emotional, mental and psychological sense. He presented the woman as...more
Moshe Fine
I'm not quite sure how much of what Mencken says to take seriously; I mean, he all but characterizes women as a distinct and superior species of hominids.
The book perhaps begins to lose steam about halfway in, just because the shock value eventually reaches a point of maximum return, and slowly peters off as you realize that Mencken seems to have convinced himself that his originally ironic description is in fact true. It's kind of like he's joking to his friends about how trees are really all...more
PM Pope
It's truth that will set you free. In H.L.Mencken's brilliantly crafted satire about the superiority of women, the naivety of romantic foolery, married men being one of the ultimate tools in the cache of feminine career opportunity (Please consider the America of 1922 and all the equal rights momentum since, before 'Pshaw!'-ing this statement), & even the ridiculously Utopic state of bachelorhood has left its' mark as the final word in that age old debate of the battle of the sexes.

I find no...more
Robert Gilbert
A technical note here: My copy of this book is the original 1922 publication. The copyright, however, lists it as having been first copyrighted in 1918.

I picked up this book at an estate sale (my favorite source for old books). I did not finish this book for two reasons--foremost my concern for the binding, which is almost a hundred years old and seemed about to release most of the pages if I kept flipping through them. Second, the author's limited experience with gender differences gave me the...more
Scot
Generally, I find Mencken’s wit and clever use of language delightful and entertaining, so I looked forward to this book as some relief reading, the kind you do when you want to cleanse your mind a bit from the concerns of business obligations, ecological disasters, or unattractive household chores left undone. Alas, it was far less entertaining than anticipated. For me the humor meter rarely moved, and when it did, it didn’t move too far.

Predictably, the old gruff from Baltimore turns things a...more
George
VERY ENTERTAINING (ALBEIT TOO TRUE)

“There is no book on women by a man that is not a stupendous compendium of posturings and imbecilities.”—page 105

H. L. Mencken’s ‘In Defense of Women’ is, indeed, “a stupendous compendium of posturings and imbecilities” that begs the platitudinous question: ‘Who will defend them from their defenders?’ In a hundred and twelve pages of lively sesquipedalian loquacity, Mencken manages to lampoon most of mankind and offer up a handful of backhanded kudos to the lad...more
Lynn Joshua
“Women are despicable; but women are better than men; therefore, men are very despicable.” So says Mencken in his introduction. And that just about sums it up. While ostensibly defending women, he uses the war between the sexes as a platform to display his cutting wit and humorous satire.
His skill as a writer is tremendous, and he makes some astute observations - like describing the female as logical and cynical and the male as the emotional romantic - but he has such a jaded view of humanity,...more
Alaina
"Man is always looking for someone to boast to. Woman is always looking for a shoulder to put her head on."

While being fairly misandric (H.L. Mencken claims the majority of average American men suffer from delusions of grandeur, irrational passion, "idiotic vanity," etc.) Mencken excels at pointing out the flaws and shortcomings of the female gender twice as often and with tongue-in-cheek applause to their "positive" traits. This book is either a failed attempt at defending the American women of...more
Walden
Absolutely one of the most amusingly sharp expositions of human gender roles in the "modern" age. This was written shortly before women gained the right to vote in the United States, and reads almost like a plea to those of the fairer sex who may have been caught up in the surrounding fervor. Unbelievable as it may sound, Mencken does make a compelling case that women would lose more than they would gain with their march towards so-called equal rights. Approach with an open mind and you may be v...more
Evie
Perhaps misogynistic even for its time, I can't deny that I love the way Mencken cleverly writes and expresses himself. I laughed out loud at his turn of phrase more than once. Taking the content at face value, an enjoyable read. I was surprised, however, by the juxtaposition of the female as logical and cynical and the male as the emotional romantic. A switch from the gender stereotype I'm used to, to say the least. Nevertheless, he craps on both men and women equally. Loved it.
Dave
I'd read that Mencken's "In Defense of Women" managed to take a stand in favor of them while sounding incredibly misogynistic at the same time.

Written very much to the era he was living in, "In Defense of Women" was simultaneously baffling and amusing to me. If the early 20th century was a bunch of lady-robots to him, I'd *love* to know what he'd have thought about our time.
Whitney
It's kind of wrong. And outdated. But the first sentence is funny. Mencken was definitely a wit, but I don't know why he presumed to write about women...

"A man's women folk, whatever their outward show of respect for his merit and authority, always regard him secretly as an ass, and with something akin to pity."
Varmint
men go out and work, invent, struggle, fight, and die. while women sit home and nag. mencken argues that they have deliberately engineered this unfair situation, and are therefore smarter than men.

a simple point to drag out over the course of a whole book. but he still makes it entertaining.
Margot Note
"The average woman, whatever her deficiencies, is greatly superior to the average man. The very ease with which she defies and swindles him in several capital situtation of life is the clearest of proofs of her general superiority."

Dave Riley
There is some debate about how he cals it but the creative irony he explores in the relationship betwixt is fun to read through. My first Mencken.Maybe an acquired and archaic taste.
Sally
I enjoyed reading this and look forward to reading more books by Mencken but I could only read a little at a time. I was angry and laughing at the same time. Those poor women in the 1920s.
Interzone
Sep 11, 2011 Interzone rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Interzone by: No one.
While the actual content is subject to scrutiny, the writing is flawless. Absolutely beautiful. This is the best american writing and prose that has ever stumbled into my possession.
Maleah
I found Mencken's use of satire hilarious; however I feel that if one read the book without realizing it was satirical, they would have been extremely offended.
Amy Catherine
i picked this up for 33(where's the cents sign? how come there's no cents sign). bought it for $.33 at a fundraiser for a cat's back surgery.
Pete
Mencken uses the theme of the book, which is ostensibly a defense of women, as a platform for misanthropy and misogyny. I enjoyed it immensely.
Barry Cunningham
Fascinating, curious, topically outdated (from the 1920s), infuriating, exasperating, insightful, and just plain stupid.
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7805
Henry Louis "H.L." Mencken became one of the most influential and prolific journalists in America in the 1920s and '30s, writing about all the shams and con artists in the world. He attacked chiropractors and the Ku Klux Klan, politicians and other journalists. Most of all, he attacked Puritan morality. He called Puritanism, "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
At the height o...more
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“Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. Wars are no longer waged by the will of superior men, capable of judging dispassionately and intelligently the causes behind them and the effects flowing out of them. The are now begun by first throwing a mob into a panic; they are ended only when it has spent its ferine fury.” 95 likes
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” 35 likes
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