The Vintage Mencken 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. Why did Mencken disagree with contemporary assessments of Abraham Lincoln?

2. What dominated Puritanism, according to Mencken in "The National Letters"?

3. In "The National Letters," what was the cause of all the "diseases" which afflict America?

4. Which is NOT one of the reasons winters were difficult in 1880s Baltimore?

5. According to Mencken, the intellectual tradition of Whitman and Emerson had been transferred to which man?

Short Essay Questions

1. In "A Blind Spot," why was Mencken impervious to the ills of democracy?

2. According to Mencken, why do so many people lie?

3. What was Mencken's opinion of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The American Scholar"?

4. What was Mencken's opinion about Henry Cabot Lodge?

5. Why did Mencken criticize Woodrow Wilson?

6. What is democracy's aim, in "A Blind Spot"? What is a crime in the eyes of democracy?

7. What questions did Mencken raise about the contemporary understanding of Abraham Lincoln?

8. What was accomplished by Walt Whitman's "Democratic Vistas," according to Mencken?

9. Instead of military generals, who did Mencken wish to award medals to in "Star-Spangled Man"?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The nature of art, and especially of writing, is a subject that concerned Mencken.

A) What argument does Mencken make in "The Artist"? How is this argument related to Mencken's anti-war stance?

B) What argument does Mencken make in "The Author at Work"? How are we to reconcile his argument with the fact that, naturally, Mencken is himself a writer?

Essay Topic 2

Mencken's style and tone are widely celebrated. Using several examples from the text, discuss Mencken's approach to style and tone. How does Mencken present himself to the reader? Who does he posit as his reader? What rhetorical devices does he use to persuade the reader of his position?

Essay Topic 3

Abraham Lincoln was the subject of a long essay. Discuss the logic and structure of Mencken's argument in regards to Abraham Lincoln. What premise does Mencken assume? What is his thesis? What evidence does he use to support his thesis, and what logic does he employ?

(see the answer keys)

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