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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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Introduction: The Critic’s Revenge (Stanley Bill)


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Introduction: The Critic’s Revenge

Stanley Bill

Jagiellonian University

Michał Głowiński (born in 1934) is among the most eminent living Polish literary scholars. In a career spanning almost six decades at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBL PAN), Głowiński has published over thirty books, largely specializing in twentieth-century Polish literature and literary theory. During the communist period in Poland, he gained particular recognition in opposition circles for his extensive work on the language of socialist totalitarianism as a form of Orwellian “newspeak.” Some of this analysis forms the core of the present volume. In 2005, Northwestern University Press published Marci Shore’s translation of The Black Seasons (Czarne sezony), an account of Głowiński’s traumatic childhood experiences as a Polish Jew in the Warsaw Ghetto during the German Occupation. In a more recent autobiographical work, he made an important step for gay rights in Poland by becoming one of very few Polish scholars to declare his own homosexuality.

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