A Dozen Gems from HL Mencken


Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) was an American satirist – one of the cleverest American writers of the early 1900’s. Here are a dozen of his bons mots:

  • The cosmos is a gigantic flywheel making 10,000 revolutions per minute. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.
  • For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.
  • The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore.
  • A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.
  • Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
  • A man may be a fool and not know it — but not if he is married.
  • Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
  • A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.
  • Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.
  • Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
  • A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
  • Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.


Wikipedia’s entry on H.L. Mencken.

More quotes can be found here.


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