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A Book of Burlesques by H. L. Mencken

A BOOK OF BURLESQUES

by

H. L. MENCKEN

[Illustration]

Published at the Borzoi . New York . by Alfred . A . Knopf

Copyright, 1916, 1920, by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Printed in the United States of America

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I. DEATH: A PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSION 11 II. FROM THE PROGRAMME OF A CONCERT 27 III. THE WEDDING: A STAGE DIRECTION 51 IV. THE VISIONARY 71 V. THE ARTIST: A DRAMA WITHOUT WORDS 83 VI. SEEING THE WORLD 105 VII. FROM THE MEMOIRS OF THE DEVIL 135 VIII. LITANIES FOR THE OVERLOOKED 149 IX. ASEPSIS: A DEDUCTION IN _SCHERZO_ FORM 159 X. TALES OF THE MORAL AND PATHOLOGICAL 183 XI. THE JAZZ WEBSTER 201 XII. THE OLD SUBJECT 213 XIII. PANORAMAS OF PEOPLE 223 XIV. HOMEOPATHICS 231 XV. VERS LIBRE 237

The present edition includes some epigrams from "A Little Book in C Major," now out of print. To make room for them several of the smaller sketches in the first edition have been omitted. Nearly the whole contents of the book appeared originally in _The Smart Set_. The references to a Europe not yet devastated by war and an America not yet polluted by Prohibition show that some of the pieces first saw print in far better days than these.

H. L. M.

February 1, 1920.

_I.--DEATH_

_I.--Death. A Philosophical Discussion_

_The back parlor of any average American home. The blinds are drawn and a single gas-jet burns feebly. A dim suggestion of festivity: strange chairs, the table pushed back, a decanter and glasses. A heavy, suffocating, discordant scent of flowers--roses, carnations, lilies, gardenias. A general stuffiness and mugginess, as if it were raining outside, which it isn't._

_A door leads into the front parlor. It is open, and through it the flowers may be seen. They are banked about a long black box with huge nickel handles, resting upon two folding horses. Now and then a man comes into the front room from the street door, his shoes squeaking hideously. Sometimes there is a woman, usually in deep mourning. Each visitor approaches the long black box, looks into it with ill-concealed repugnance, snuffles softly, and then backs of toward the door. A clock on the mantel-piece ticks loudly. From the street come the usual noises--a wagon rattling, the clang of a trolley car's gong, the shrill cry of a child._


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