A Mencken Chrestomathy Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What is Mencken's belief about crime?

2. How did morality come to be, according to Mencken?

3. What aspect of President Grant does Mencken admire?

4. What "call" does Mencken make to America's poets in Chapter 7?

5. Before democracy came to be, what did people believe this system of government to be?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Describe Mencken's contention that democracy is a "self-limiting disease." What does he mean by that? Is there any good aspects to democracy?

4. Summarize Mencken's appraisal of William Jennings Bryan. How is Mencken's opinion related to the Scopes Monkey Trial?

5. What is Mencken's view of romantic love?

6. Describe Mencken's opinion of George Washington. Why does Mencken admire him? Why doesn't Mencken believe Washington would do well in a contemporary political climate?

7. What is the origin of morality according to Mencken?

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

9. What is Mencken's opinion of the contemporary American South? What are its features? What rules the South?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Describe in-depth Mencken's views of the following people (and specific works, if applicable):

1) Ludwig van Beethoven

2) Richard Strauss

3) Johann Strauss

4) Johannes Brahms

5) Richard Wagner

6) Franz Schubert

Essay Topic 2

Summarize Mencken's views on government, especially the democratic form of government. Include:

a) The average man's conception of government

b) The history and evolution of democracy as Mencken sees it

c) Why democracy is inherently flawed

d) The effects of democracy -- what it harms, what kind of people it produces

e) Mencken's prescription for an ideal form of government/leadership for the United States

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the Chapter 29 "buffoonery" in which Mencken portrays a dialogue involving Pharoah Cheops.

1) Summarize the "plot" and premise of the story.

2) Discuss how the story relates to contemporary concerns.

3) Speculate as to why Mencken may have used Pharaoh Cheops and his world to comment on contemporary issues. What does Mencken accomplish by commentary designed in this fashion?

(see the answer keys)

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