Test: ACT English

Adapted from “Puritanism as a Literary Force” in A Book of Prefaces by H.L. Mencken (1917)

Naturally enough, this moral obsession has given a strong color to American literature. It is true that American literature is set off sharply from all other literatures. In none other will you find so wholesale and ecstatic a sacrifice of ideas, of all the fine gusto of passion and beauty, to notions of what is proper and nice. From the books of grisly sermons that were the first American contribution to letters down to that amazing literature of "inspiration" which now exists, one observes no relaxation of the moral pressure.

In the history of every other literature there have been periods of what might be called moral innocence. In such periods a naive “joie de vivre” (joy of living) has broken through all concepts of duty and responsibility, and the wonder and glory of the universe has been hymned with unashamed zest. The age of Shakespeare comes to mind at once. The violence of the Puritan reactions offers a measure of the pendulums’ wild swing. But in America no such general rising of the blood has ever been seen.

The literature of the nation, even the literature of the minority, has been under harsh and uneducated Puritan restraints from the beginning, and despite a few stealthy efforts at revolt, it shows not the slightest sign of emancipating itself today. The American, try as he will, can never imagine any work of the imagination as wholly without moral content. It must either tend toward the promotion of virtue or, otherwise, be questionable.


Which is the best form of the bolded expression, “The American, try as he will, can never imagine”?

The American, try as he will, can never imagines


The American, try as they will, can never imagine

The Americans, try as he will, can never imagine

1/3 questions


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