Echo and Critique: Poetry and the Clichés of Public Speech by Florian Gargaillo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Out Now (May 10, 2023)
This book examines seven poets’ attempts to halt the proliferation of clichés, euphemisms, doublespeak, etc., words and phrases that not only corrupt the language but are often used to disguise bad behavior or to camouflage dismaying truths. It focuses on a technique, echo and critique, in which the poet employs one or more of these disconcerting words or phrases (or clever variants of them,) but does so in a way that reveals the chicanery within them.
The poets whose work is discussed are: Auden, Randall Jarrell, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Robert Lowell, Josephine Miles, and Seamus Heaney. These poets go head-to-head with cliché and doublespeak in the form of bureaucratese, propaganda, political speak, and business talk — with particular emphasis on war, race, and politics.
The book makes some interesting points. There are more readable discussions of the subject of corruption and manipulation of the English language, though none that I’m aware of on this particular approach to combating it. This volume is largely aimed at scholars, and not so much the popular readers. That said, I found it well worth reading.
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