Book Review: “Educated” by Tara Westover and “The American Language” by HL Mencken (1917)

jan 19 bookEducated: A Memoir
Author: Tara Westover
Published by Random House (335 pp)

I chose to read Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated” since I was looking for a quick read and also because the title of the book enticed me. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.
Many of us, especially women, are forced to conform to tradition. Many parents all over the world subscribe to a paranoid patchwork of beliefs beyond practicality or pragmatism.

Westover was the youngest daughter of a fundamentalist Mormon in Idaho. Her father was determined to keep her secluded against modern world in a very crude manner.
Westover was not sent to school, but for Westover suffocating tradition and succumbing to her father’s idiosyncrasy was not an option. She was determined to be liberated from the morbid clutches of her clan. She taught herself enough to take the ACT and enter Brigham Young University at 17. She went on to Cambridge University for a doctorate in history.

Westover who is only 32 years old has described her odyssey that is daring and inspirational. “Part of me will always believe that my father’s words ought to be my own,” she writes. Though defiant, she is always respectful to those (including her father) who wanted to keep her bounded by archaic and cruel tradition.

The American Language by HL Mencken (1917)

Since I find linguistics fascinating, so I was attracted to attempt to read, “The American Language” by H L Mencken (published in 1917). To confess, I am not a philologist nor do I have the stomach to digest the entire book. I read a few chapters only and found it both enriching and fascinating.
To introduce Mencken, he was a patriot and a master of American prose. ” In his day, Mencken was as influential in the US as George Bernard Shaw in Britain.” (Wall Street Journal).

I was mostly interested in the chapters where he compared the British English with American English. Mencken believed that American English was superior to British English. He observed that even the Englishmen favored American English over their own.

However, Mencken also stated “that no such thing as an American variety of English existed – that the differences I constantly encountered in English, and that my English friends encountered in American, were chiefly imaginary”.


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