It's not just that some of Baltimore writer and
journalist H.L. Mencken's best friends were Jewish; as
Alistair Cook once said, with only slight exaggeration,
"Nearly all of Mencken's best friends were Jewish," as were
his lifelong business associates.
The iconoclastic social commentary of Baltimore Sun
reporter and columnist Henry Louis Mencken was a major
factor in American intellectual discourse during the first
part of the 20th century. And although Mencken could speak
some Yiddish, enjoyed kosher food, dined during the High
Holidays at the homes of his Jewish friends and was often
mistaken for being Jewish, he sometimes wrote disparagingly
of Jews, failed to publicly denounce Hitler and was accused
of being an anti-Semite.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, Mencken scholar David S. Thaler
will present an illustrated lecture, based on his book
The Mencken Paradox (Mercury House Press, 2006),
exploring the issues associated with the persistent
assertion that Mencken was anti-Semitic. In the book,
Thaler offers an insightful new analysis of the political
and social climate in early-20th-century Baltimore and
Mencken's relationship with the German Jews and its effect
on his attitude toward the burgeoning Eastern European
The event will take place at 3:30 p.m. at the George
Peabody Library. Copies of the book will be available for
sale, and a reception and book signing will follow the
talk. The event is free, but seating for the lecture is
limited; for reservations, call 410-516-7943.
"The Menken Paradox: Was H.L. Mencken an Anti-Semite?"
is presented in conjunction with Yet Another One! H.L.
Mencken, an exhibition on view at the George Peabody
Library through Jan. 7. The exhibition takes its title from
the fact that Mencken sent so many of his books to some
friends that he sometimes inscribed them, "Noch eins!"
("Yet another one!").
Offering an intriguing view of Mencken through
personal inscriptions in books, pamphlets and other
publications that he gave to friends and family, the
exhibition may be viewed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday
through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and from noon
to 5 p.m. on Sunday.