Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Mencken on GKC

In a letter to Louis Untermeyer dated March 26, 1912, H. L. Mencken asserts that he has grown tired of Chesterton's prose. "He has said all he has to say," Mencken wrote. "Of late his stuff has been mere repetition." Mencken did concede, however, that he thought Untermeyer's good opinion of The Ballad of the White Horse was "right." [New Mencken Letters, New York: Dial, 1977]

As long as we're on Mencken, I might as well offer my favorite quote from that essay: "The professor must be an obscurantist or he is nothing; he has a special and unmatchable talent for dullness; his central aim is not to expose the truth clearly, but to exhibit his profundity, his esotericity—in brief, to stagger sophomores and other professors."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Odd - I was just reading a Mencken review of Orthodoxy. I don't feel like typing it up, but in summary, he called GK "clever" but disagreed with his intellectual positions (Mencken was wholly a scientific materialist).