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Totalitarian Speech


Michal Glowinski

Totalitarian Speech brings together a range of texts on totalitarian manipulations of language. The author analyzes various phenomena, from the hateful rhetoric of Nazi Germany to the obfuscating newspeak of communist Poland, finding certain common characteristics. Above all, totalitarian speech in its diverse manifestations imposes an all-embracing worldview and an associated set of dichotomous divisions from an omniscient and authoritative perspective. This volume collects the work of over three decades, including essays written during the communist era and more recent pieces assessing the legacy of totalitarian ways of thinking in contemporary Poland.
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1. Narration as Dramatic Monologue




The term “monologue” does not evince any unambiguous clarity, as it may refer to many different phenomena, even in the case of exclusively narrative utterances. When we analyze works of literary prose, we may use the term in its broadest sense – namely, with the meaning assigned to it by linguists, who have often defined it in opposition to dialogue. According to Jan Mukařovský:

For linguistics […] monologue signifies the utterance of a single active participant regardless of whether other passive participants are present or absent. Therefore, the story is a typical monologue in the linguistic sense.2

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