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This article is taken from PN Review 132, Volume 26 Number 4, March - April 2000.

Language, Truth and Style Frederic Raphael

Sometimes the middle-aged man looks across a room, or a street, and catches sight of someone who was the object of his youthful ardour. Can this be the girl whose embrace he could never forget? It is not only girls who excite such passions. Consider this account of a young writer's first encounter with the object of his love:

The first book which Thornton Ashworth recommended was Language, Truth and Logic. No sooner had Paul begun it than he felt he had found in it the solution not only to his problems but to all his difficulties as well. The book's icy articulation of language and the remorseless destructiveness of its arguments were alike agreeable to him... He felt the author to be his saviour from a world of tangled and ponderous pieties... Nothing in Paul's past was relevant to this new philosophy. It was a fresh, sterilized scalpel with which he might excise the scar tissue that still pained him with its adhesions. There was nothing he might not do. There was no reason on earth to be anything that he did not want to be. There was no reason why he should acknowledge his Jewishness. There was no reason to remain faithful to Julia. There was no reason to pay attention to the rumblings of his inner moral indigestion, it remained only to purge it, to ridicule it, to prune his own contradictory and nonsensical feelings till his personality had something of the cold ...


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