Lesson Seven The Libido for the Ugly --- H.L. Mencken
Aims • To know the author, Henry L. Mencken • To learn the writing technique of description • To appreciate the language features
Teaching Contents • 1. Henry Louis Mencken • 2. Description • 2. Detailed study of the text • 3. Organizational pattern • 4. Language features • 5. Exercises
Time allocation 1. Background information (15 min.) 2. Detailed study of the text (120 min.) 3. Structure analysis (15 min.) 4. Language appreciation (15 min.) 5. Exercises (15 min)
Henry Louis Mencken (1880--1956) American educator, author, critic *7image-123* Mencken图片
Henry Louis Mencken • His life • He was born and spent most of his life in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. He was the son of German immigrant parents. He completed high school but did not attend university, only graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute at 16. He became a reporter on the Baltimore Morning Herald.
Henry Louis Mencken • A few years later, he joined the staff of its rival newspaper, the Baltimore Sun or Evening Sun, first as a reporter, then as its drama critic and editor, a position which he held until 1941.
Henry Louis Mencken • He helped to found and edit two literary magazines which were highly influential among intellectuals. • The Smart Set http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0895262312/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-2478532-5338368#reader-page 2) The American Mercury
Henry Louis Mencken • He was a central figure in American intellectual life during the 1920's. He launched the most cutting attacks of any writer against America's middle class culture. He invented the word"booboisie", combining the two words "bourgeoisie" and "booby" (an awkward, foolish person).
Henry Louis Mencken • In caustic, witty essays, he derided (mock) the institution which supported the middle class. He enjoyed controversy and tried to arouse his antagonists with his direct and devastating attacks.
Henry Louis Mencken • 1) He hated narrow-minded religion. He believed strongly in intellectual freedom and fought all attempts to censor literature and drama. He felt that the greatest threat of censorship came from the country's religion "fundamentalists", whose opinions were all based on their interpretation of the Bible.
Henry Louis Mencken • 2) He hated commercialism. • 3) He did not support democracy because he considered the masses too ignorant and greedy to exercise it wisely.
His works • Mencken's essays were received with delight or horror, depending on the reader's point of view, he was also highly respected for his literary criticism and he exerted a powerful influence on American literature.
His works • The American Language 1918 • Prejudices (6 vols) 1919--1927 • Happy days • Newspaper Days 1940--1943 autobiography • Heathen Days • 25 Books and thousands of articles
Henry Louis Mencken • He was a leading scholar in the field of language. His monumental book "The American Language" is considered an outstanding work of philology.
"The American Language" a) It examined the development of the English language in America, b) It contrasted English and American expressions and usage.
"The American Language" c) It explained the origin of many American idioms, d) It traced the influence of immigrant languages on American English.
"The American Language" • He made a large contribution to the study of language and particularly encouraged scholarly study of the American branch of English.
His Style • He is well-known for his bombastic style and acid tongue
His Style • He wrote with verve(strong feeling), gusto (eager enjoyment) and exaggeration. His exuberant and extravagant use of the language was so amusing and startling that even his most violently critical essays became acceptable to his readers.
His Style • He employed a huge vocabulary and liked to insert unusual or unexpected words, for surprise or comic effect, into otherwise normal sentences. Although his style is occasionally difficult to read, Mencken is still considered one of the best and liveliest essayists of this century.
His Style • Bombastic style and acid language • exaggeration • hyperbole • over rhetorical pompous • Language--- biting \sharp
The literary style • It is typical of description *http://www.io.com/gibbonsb/mencken/*
Description • Description is painting a picture in words of a person, place, object and scene.
Description • It conveys the sensations, emotions and impressions that affect a writer experiencing a person, place, object or idea. The writer describes what he sees, hears, smells, feels or tastes, and it often includes his emotional reactions to the physical sensation of the experience.
Description • The soul of description: • minute details, specific concrete words to appeal to the reader's sense of sight • smell • taste • hearing • touch
Description • How to develop description? • By space order • Things can be described from a moving position through space • a fixed position in space
Description A. The description of a person 1) a person's appearance 2) what the person does, says, how he behaves to others to reveal the person's character
Description B. The description of a place 1) for its own sake, for the purpose of describing it, such as on a visit to famous scenic places 2) for the purpose of revealing the personality and character of a person (A clean tidy room shows the occupant is an orderly person)
Description 3) for the purpose of creating a feeling or mood • The howling of a chilly wind • The falling of autumn leaves help to build up a sombre mood and increase the feeling of depression.
Description C. The description of an object • WE have to depend on our senses. 1) You need to mention: size color shape taste texture smell ---- create a clear visual image
Description 2) You need to tell how it is used if it is useful • What part it plays in a person's life if it is in some way related to him • But emphasis should be placed on only one aspect of the object, such as its most important characteristics.
Description • D. The description of a scene • When describing a scene, the writer should try to create a dominant impression. So before he begins to write, he must make up his mind as to what effect he wants the description to achieve.
Description • three basic factors: • the setting • the people • the action
Description • appropriate adjectives and adverbs old square roughly young circular more or less short triangular not very thin heavy fairly fat large extremely kind small approximately encouraging red about helpful blue just
Description • 2 kinds of description: 1) objective \ impersonal • realistic • When topic is viewed from an objective point of view, the writer paints a verbal picture of the realistic world, like a camera. • factual words
Description • 2) subjective \ personal • impressionistic \ emotional • The writer wants to share with the readers a kind of dominant impression. The dominant impression may be a sense impression or an emotion
Description • emotional words • In this lesson, Mencken is very subjective and personal. His description is strongly impressionistic and highly emotional. • The dominant impression --- ugliness • Westmoreland is the ugliest place not only in the US but also in the world.
Detailed study of the text • Libido --- • Do you think it is a general word? • No. It is a specific word used in psycho-analysis • It is a technical term in psychology. (Freudian)
Libido --- • Meaning – • psychic energy generally • specifically that comprising the positive loving instincts • the sexual urge • strong desire, great passion, great lust
Libido --- • Why does the writer choose this term? • -- in order to give his subject scientific coloring.
Why • He wants to demonstrate that what he describes has psychological and scientific foundation. Usually, people love things beautiful, but a group of people in the US love things ugly for its own sake (because they are ugly) Why? There must be some scientific and psychological reasons.
Pittsburgh – • *http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/ * • *7image-45* • A city in southwest Pennsylvania , It is one of the most important industrial cities of America, and a center of rail and river transportation. Termed the “Steel City” of “Smoky City”, it is the center of rich bituminous-coal region, producing also natural gas, oil and limestone, a large part of US steel and iron is produced here.
Westmoreland county – • A county on southwest Pennsylvania • Its county seat is Greensburg. It is a mining and manufacturing region. • *7image-6*
appalling – causing fear, shocking, terrible, dreadful • Something that is appalling is so bad or unpleasant that it makes you fell disgust or dismay • Some of these people live in appalling conditions.
desolation – bleakness • A quality of a place which makes it seem empty and frightening • Empty of people • Lacking in comfort
Here was the very heart … • metaphor: heart --- center of industrial America • hyperbole : richest, grandest nation on earth • antithetical contrast