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Giant on Giant

In January, 1910, H.L. Mencken wrote of Chesterton's George Bernard Shaw: "The cleverest man in all the world, with the second cleverest as his subject, is here doing his cleverest writing. . . Not since St. Augustine have the gods sent us a man who could make the incredible so fascinatingly probable."

But the next year (1911) Mencken excoriated GKC's What's Wrong with the World, writing that Chesterton had grown tiresome and redundant, saying Chesterton "needs a holiday, a chance to catch his breath, a rest in some philosophical sanitarium, a course of intellectual wet nursing. Let him put aside his pen for a year or so and renew his stock of ideas." In 1912, Mencken's opinion hadn't changed much, writing in a letter to Louis Untermeyer that he has grown tired of Chesterton's prose. "He has said all he has to say," Mencken wrote. "Of late his stuff has been mere repetition." Mencken did concede, however, that he thought Untermeyer's good opinion of The Ballad of the White Horse was "right."