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The Constant Circle, The Constant Circle, 0817350632, 0-8173-5063-2, 978-0-8173-5063-5, 9780817350635, , Fire Ant Book

The Constant Circle
H. L. Mencken and His Friends
by Sara Mayfield

Quality Paper
2003. 320 pp.
Price:  $29.95 s

A warm and intimate account of a complex, contradictory man seen through the eyes of a long-standing friend and confidante.

Recognized until his death in 1956 as the outstanding literary critic of his generation, H. L. Mencken also excelled as a journalist, editor, and author. Characterized as the enfant terrible of American letters, he was famous for his vitriolic attacks on the hypocrisy and bigotry he saw in much of American life. Yet Mencken was surrounded by a circle of devoted friends and was known to be a gentle, loving, and compassionate husband.

Because of her lifelong friendship with his wife, Sara Haardt, Sara Mayfield was not only part of Mencken's circle but also a trusted confidante of the literary lion himself. Drawing on letters, diaries, notes, and private conversations, The Constant Circle captures the essence of a man who left an indelible mark on American intellectual life and letters. Great and near-great figures of the era move through Mayfield’s candid and unpretentious account: Hemingway, Dreiser, George Jean Nathan, O’Neill, Faulkner, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Tallulah Bankhead, Sinclair Lewis, Rebecca West, Willa Cather, Ellen Glasgow, Thomas Wolfe, and presidents from Wilson to Truman. Richard Freedman notes that "with a minimum of pious hoopla about the Algonquin Wits, Miss Mayfield brings the whole gracefully doomed era of the American literary 20’s to life."

When The Constant Circle was first published in 1968, the New Yorker printed a review by Edmund Wilson titled "The Aftermath of Mencken." That review appears in its entirety as the introduction to this paperback edition.

Sara Mayfield was awarded the 1969 Literary Award from the Alabama Library Association for this title. She also wrote Exiles from Paradise and Mona Lisa: The Story of the Woman in the Portrait.


"Although Miss Mayfield has dipped studiously into the records and letters, she speaks with the special warmth and insight of her own acquaintance with Mencken and many of those in the ‘constant circle’ around him. She looks back with an attitude almost as candid and gossipy as the Sage of Baltimore himself, and a style that is breezy and colloquial. What emerges is a vivid montage of an era. . . . Most of the personages who created the literary golden age that began in the twenties are here again."
New York Times

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