Quotemanship: The Use and Abuse of Quotations for Polemical and Other Purposes

Quotemanship: The Use and Abuse of Quotations for Polemical and Other Purposes

Quotemanship: The Use and Abuse of Quotations for Polemical and Other Purposes

Quotemanship: The Use and Abuse of Quotations for Polemical and Other Purposes

Excerpt

This is a book about quotations. It is not a dictionary, encyclopedia, compendium, anthology, collection, or compilation of famous quotations for ready reference, although it contains many quotations. It is rather an analysis of how quotations have come to be utilized in the United States on polemical, forensic, partisan, disputative, and argumentative occasions, and an effort to classify the different ways--both valid and invalid--in which quotations have been and may be so utilized.

Reviewing two books on communism by Bertram D. Wolfe for the New York Review of Books on September 30, 1965, E. J. Hobsbawn observed: "The author knows his Marx and is wellequipped for the type of intellectual battles in which quotations take the place of missiles. . . ." This book is concerned with quotational missiles--guided and misguided--and with the political battles in which they figured prominently in recent times. The focus is upon the use and misuse of quotations for polemical purposes, and most of the illustrative quotes are taken from American political history.

The polemical utilization of quotations may appropriately be called "quotemanship." The term is an obvious derivation from Stephen Potter's well-known series of books on gamesmanship, lifemanship, and one-upmanship, all of which involve tricky ways of winning without actually violating the rules of the game. Quote-

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