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Standing by Words
ISBN 0865471223 / 9780865471221 / 0-86547-122-3
Publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux
List price $12.00
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The Chinese character on the cover of this volume depicts a man besides the sign for "word." It is the written form of xin, which Ezra Pound defined as: "Fidelity to the given word. The man here is standing by his word." Such fidelity to the word, as evidenced by clarity of meaning and intent, would go far to reconnect language to life. Without a renewed sense of language we cannot hope to restore balance, harmony, and coherence to our lives, our land, and our communities, for these must be joined "as marriage joins them -- in words by which a man or woman can stand, words confirmable in acts."
In these six essays, Wendell Berry considers the degeneration of language that is manifest throughout our culture, from poetry to politics, from conversation to advertising, and he shows how the ever-widening cleft between words and their referents mirrors the increasing isolation of individuals from their communities and of their communities from the land. [via]