30 July 2005

The Badness of King George

      Laudator Temporis Acti has reminded me of this delightful piece by the legendary American cynic and intellectual shit-disturber, H.L. Mencken, in which Mencken kindly translates the Declaration of Independence into then-idiomatic American.   For those of you unfamiliar with Mencken (he was grandly redrawn as E.K. Hornbeck in the classic play Inherit The Wind), I recommend perusing some of the materials available here from the University of Maryland library.

      It's one of those rare shames of being Canadian, that few of us north of the border are even at all familiar with him.   He's much more commonly known in the States, but for some reason he hasn't been held to Canuckistani breasts in the same way that other Yanks have been.   He can be penetratingly insightful-- and sometimes unnecessarily vicious.   More than anyone else in literary history, I can easily imagine him echoing, with righteous indignation, Pooh-Bah's famous assertion from The Mikado: "I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something in-conceivable. I cant help it. I was born sneering."   "Sneering," though, would probably have been putting too fine a point on it for Mencken.

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