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Language, Truth and Consequences



What you have here are:

They deal, in one way or another, with questions that I touch on in “Nihilism, Modernism, and Value”—questions about meaning, language, communication, value, order (the usual suspects).

By “page” I mean a print page of four hundred words.


“In Defence of Language” grew within those lectures like a state within a state, until it had to be given independence. It appeared in the Winter 1989/90 issue of the University of Toronto Quarterly.

“Playing for Real; Discourse and Authority” was my inuagural lecture at Dalhousie in 1986 as the George Munro Professor of English. It appeared in the Spring 1987 issue of the University of Toronto Quarterly.

“Communication, Communion, Communality” was another outgrowth from the work on nihilism. I cannot recall whether or not I tried to publish it. It may have had one rejection. In any event, this is its first appearance in print.

“Mind-Forged Manacles” appeared in the University of Toronto Quarterly in the Summer 1989 issue, along with several other replies to the editorial questionnaire that elicited it.

I am grateful to the then editor of the University of Toronto Quarterly, Tom Adamowski, for his prompt acceptance of the first two pieces and his solicitation of the fourth, and to Margaret Procter for her excellent copy-editing.


I also did some literary theorizing, directly or obliquely, in the following:

Descartes’ Discourse on Method; a Look at Its RhetoricGraduate Student of English, II (Spring 1959), 17-22.

“Modern Poetics: Twentieth-Century American and British,” Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Alex Preminger (Princeton University Press), 1965, 514-518.

“Mr. Frye and Evaluation,” Cambridge Quarterly (II (1967), 97-116.

“Leavis and Winters: Professional Manners,” Cambridge Quarterly, V (1970), 41-71.

“Stretches and Languages: a Contribution to Critical Theory,” College English, XXXII (1971), 381-398.

“Leavis, Winters, and Poetry,” Southern Review [Adelaide], V, September 1972, 179-196.

“Evaluation and English Studies,” College English, XXXV (1973), 249-266.

“Rereading Traven’s The Death Ship,” Southern Review new series, IX (1973), 69-92.

Introduction, The Name of Action: Critical Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1984), 1-8.


In both “In Defence of Language” and “Communication, Communion, Communality” there are footnotes linked from the body text using numbers in square brackets, as [15]. Clicking on these numbers will jump you down the page to the footnote. There you may click the number at the beginning of the footnote to jump back to your place in the text.


“Language, Truth, and Consequences” is for Ian Robinson, John Baxter, and Helen Pinkerton Trimpi.


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Language, Truth, and Consequences - Preface In Defence of Language; If It Needs It Playing for Real: Discourse and Authority Communication, Communion, Communality Mind-Forged Manacles; Reply to Questionnaire