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  The American Language, first published in 1919, is H. L. Mencken's book about the English language as spoken in the United States. Mencken was inspired by 'the argot of the colored waiters' in Washington, as well as one of his favorite authors, Mark Twain, and his experiences on the streets of Baltimore. In 1902, Mencken remarked on the 'queer words which go into the making of 'United States.'' The book was preceded by several columns in The Evening Sun. Mencken eventually asked 'Why doesn't some painstaking pundit attempt a grammar of the American language... English, that is, as spoken by the great masses of the plain people of this fair land?' It would appear that he answered his own question. In the tradition of Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary, Mencken wanted to defend 'Americanisms' against a steady stream of English critics, who usually isolated Americanisms as borderline barbarous perversions of the mother tongue. Mencken assaulted the prescriptive grammar of these critics and American 'schoolmarms', arguing, like Samuel Johnson in the preface to his dictionary, that language evolves independently of textbooks. The book discusses the beginnings of 'American' variations from 'English', the spread of these variations, American names and slang over the course of its 374 pages. According to Mencken, American English was more colorful, vivid, and creative than its British counterpart. The book sold exceptionally well by Mencken's standards—1400 copies in the first two months. Reviews of the book praised it lavishly, with the exception of one by Mencken's old nemesis, Stuart Sherman. source: Wikipedia

A London Life

  A London Life is a work by Henry James. The plot revolves around a crumbling marriage and its impact on many other people, especially Laura Wing, the sister of the soon-to-be-divorced wife. Laura is a classic Jamesian 'central consciousness,' whose reflections and emotions color the presentation of the storyline and the other characters. The tale is notable for its straightforward, even hard-edged approach to sexuality and divorce. This might reflect the influence of French naturalism on James during the 1880s.  - Wikipedia Laura Wing, a young and pretty American, is spending a season in England with her sister's family, and becomes increasingly involved in a major crisis in their lives. Laura stands by helplessly as a scandal unfolds among the English aristocracy--the corrupt society that James portrays in this novel with brutal honesty.  - Alibris

Phineas Redux

  Phineas Redux is a novel by Anthony Trollope, first published in 1873 as a serial in the Graphic. It is the fourth of the 'Palliser' series of novels and the sequel to the second book of the series, Phineas Finn. Anthony Trollope ( 24 April 1815 6 December 1882 ) became one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of Trollope's best-loved works, known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire; he also wrote penetrating novels on political, social, and gender issues and conflicts of his day.Trollope has always been a popular novelist. Noted fans have included Sir Alec Guinness (who never travelled without a Trollope novel), former British Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir John Major, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, American novelists Sue Grafton and Dominick Dunne and soap opera writer Harding Lemay. Trollope's literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century.- Wikipedia

The Tragic Muse

  The Tragic Muse is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly in 1889-1890 and then as a book in 1890. This wide, cheerful panorama of English life follows the fortunes of two would-be artists: Nick Dormer, who vacillates between a political career and his efforts to become a painter, and Miriam Rooth, an actress striving for artistic and commercial success. A huge cast of supporting characters help and hinder their pursuits. Critics have generally applauded Miriam Rooth as one of James' liveliest creations. There has been some speculation about the model for Gabriel Nash, who sounds at times like Oscar Wilde. However, James actually seems to have based the character on an acquaintance named Herbert Pratt, a well-heeled, guitar-playing American wanderer, who was a Cambridge friend of William James. Having listened to Pratt's colourful stories, James jotted down in his Notebooks on November 25, 1881: '[Pratt] was a most singular, most interesting type, and I shall certainly put him in a novel. I shall even make the portrait close and he won't mind...A good deal might be done with Herbert Pratt'. - Wikipedia


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