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. What was the subject of Walt Whitman's "Democratic Vistas"?

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

3. Which war was General John Pershing most famously involved in?

4. What famous speech did Ralph Waldo Emerson deliver in 1837?

5. Which decade, according to the author, was Mencken at his best?

Short Essay Questions

1. In "Gore in the Caribees," what becames of the rebel leader, Jose Miguel Gomez?

2. How did Charlie get craftsmen to work at the jail in "Recollections of Notable Cops"?

3. Why did Mencken believe it was advantageous for him to have not attended college?

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

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

6. What was Gene the magistrate's approach to law and justice in "Recollections of Notable Cops"?

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

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

9. What is the difference between men and women in regards to trust, according to "The Skeptic"?

10. Why are "handsome men" suspicious, according to "The Lure of Beauty"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Mencken often commented on political figures, such as in "Pater Patriae" and "Lodge."

A) Discuss two articles in which Mencken seems to have a positive opinion of the political figure. What does Mencken's admiration tell us about Mencken?

B) Discuss two articles in which Mencken displays a negative opinion of the political figure. Similar to A), what does Mencken's criticisms tell us about Mencken?

Essay Topic 2

Religion was the frequent target of Mencken's attacks, such as in "Quid Est Veritas?" and "Holy Writ."

A) Why is religion dangerous, according to Mencken? Cite specific examples in the texts.

B) Can religion be salvaged somehow, to Mencken's mind, or is religion universally bad?

C) Describe fundamentalism, and discuss how fundamentalism factors in to Mencken's religious views.

Essay Topic 3

A modern controversy swirled around the issue of whether or not Mencken was a racist.

A) What might the article "Anglo-Saxon" tell us about settling the issue of Mencken's racism?

B) What might the article "The Calamity of Appomattox" tell us about settling the issue of Mencken's racism?

C) How does Mencken's frequent sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek tone complicate this controversy?

(see the answer keys)

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