The Vintage Mencken Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Why did Alistair Cooke feel that Mencken experienced a "downfall" in the 1930s?

As opposed to the 1920s, Roosevelt and the hardships of the 1930s proved to be Mencken's downfall, according to Cooke, as the attitude of the country had changed, rendering Mencken's musings arrogant-sounding and irrelevant.

2. What was the nature of Mencken's first memory, as described in "Introduction to the Universe"?

From his balcony, Mencken watched a carnival put on by the Order of Orioles. The dizzying and frightening lights of the carnival frightened him, and he had to be comforted by his mother.

3. What was the chief problem of a Baltimore summer, according to Mencken in "The Baltimore of the Eighties"?

A Baltimore summer brought swarms of bugs, making communal gatherings difficult. Mencken and his brother Charlie used to delight in slingshotting flies, as well as killing the bats drawn by the bugs.

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