How Words Make Things Happen
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produce the result they intend.
This volume studies examples from a range of speakers and writers and offers close readings of their words. Chapter 1 considers the theory of speech-acts propounded by J.L. Austin. 'Speakers Who Convince Themselves' is the subject of chapter 2, which interprets two soliloquies by Shakespeare's characters and two by Milton's Satan. The oratory of Burke and Lincoln come in for extended treatment in chapter 3, while chapter 4 looks at the rival tendencies of moral suasion and aestheticism in the
poetry of Yeats and Auden. The final chapter, a cause of controversy when first published in the London Review of Books, supports a policy of unrestricted free speech against contemporary proposals of censorship. Since we cannot know what our own words are going to do, we have no standing to justify
the banishment of one set of words in favour of another.