A Mencken Chrestomathy Test | Mid-Book Test - Medium

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This test consists of 5 multiple choice questions, 5 short answer questions, and 10 short essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. Which is NOT one of the features Mencken imagines for the Confederacy, had it survived the Civil War?
(a) It would have a strong aristocracy in place.
(b) It would be a wealthier place.
(c) It would be a more cultured place.
(d) It would never have abolished slavery.

2. Which is NOT one of the qualities Mencken ascribes to William Jennings Bryan?
(a) Lack of dignity.
(b) Charlatanism.
(c) Insanity.
(d) Preference to keep in the company of intellectuals.

3. What is the fundamental flaw of the democratic style of government?
(a) Voting systems can never be 100% accurate.
(b) There are simply too many intelligent people to decide between.
(c) Over time, democracy resembles monarchy.
(d) The people are not competent to govern themselves.

4. What is the chief problem with political theorists?
(a) They are too antagonistic to the current political system.
(b) They have little sense of history.
(c) They hate politics in general.
(d) They attempt to dignify the political order of their day.

5. How does Mencken describe President Coolidge?
(a) His life was marred by continual misfortune.
(b) He was a typical American.
(c) He was an orator of great skill and emotive power.
(d) He was reserved and agnostic.

Short Answer Questions

1. What is the problem with trying to punishment a government for not working well?

2. Who does Mencken dub "The Lady of Joy"?

3. What was the goal of early democratists?

4. Which politician does Mencken refer to as "a good man in a bad trade"?

5. What is Mencken's opinion about the variety of political systems?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is Mencken's take on the universality of morality? Can morality grow and change, or is it static?

2. In Chapter 1, what comparison does Mencken make between man and animal? Who is "superior"?

3. What does Mencken see as a popular misconception about death? What is his opinion of suicide?

4. Who is Professor Thorstein Veblen, and what is Mencken's opinion of him and his work?

5. What is Mencken's view of monogamy/marriage?

6. Describe Mencken's conception of the Anglo-Saxon American. What are this person's flaws?

7. Describe Mencken's thought experiment, in which he imagines if the Confederacy had won the Civil War.

8. What does Mencken believe about the nature of man and God? What is the consequence for believing in God? What about the soul?

9. Per Chapter 2, describe Mencken's summation of the following types of people: the romantic, the believer, the metaphysician, and the altruist.

10. Discuss Mencken's history of democracy. Before it arrived, what did people think of democracy? How was it conceived? How did it evolve?

(see the answer keys)

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