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News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

October 23, 2006
MEDIA CONTACT: Pamela Higgins
(410) 516-8337

Was H.L. Mencken an Anti-Semite?
Peabody Library Program Examines the "Mencken Paradox"

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 life-long business associates.

On Sunday, Nov. 19, at 3:30 p.m., Mencken scholar David S. Thaler will present an illustrated lecture at Baltimore's George Peabody Library exploring the issues associated with the persistent assertion that Mencken was anti-Semitic.

Based on his book The Mencken Paradox, published in 2006 by Mercury House Press, Thaler offers an insightful new analysis of the political and social climate in early 20th century Baltimore, Mencken's relationship with the German Jews, and its effect on his attitude toward the burgeoning Eastern European Jewish community.

Copies of the book will be available for sale and a reception and book signing will follow the talk. Seating for the lecture is limited; for reservations, call 410-516-7943. The Peabody Library is located at 17 E. Mount Vernon Place.

Baltimore Sun reporter and columnist Henry Louis Mencken's iconoclastic social commentary was a major factor in American intellectual discourse during the first part of the 20th century. Often mistaken for being Jewish, Mencken could speak some Yiddish, enjoyed kosher food, and dined during the High Holidays at the homes of his Jewish friends. Yet he sometimes wrote disparagingly of Jews, failed to publicly denounce Hitler and was accused of being an anti-Semite.

The Menken Paradox: Was H.L. Mencken an Anti-Semite? is presented in conjunction with "Yet Another One! H. L Mencken," an exhibition at the George Peabody Library. 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 runs through Jan. 7, 2007. It may be viewed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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