Word Out

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 8, 2013 | Go to article overview

Word Out


Byline: Lleucu Siencyn post@literaturewales.org

Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto contains some of the most memorable lines in history. Wherever you may sit on the political spectrum, you will be familiar with famous quotes such as "Workers of the world unite!" and "You have nothing to lose but your chains".

It's written in fluid prose with architectural precision.

The argument builds and builds, and the narrative swerves and compels with great persuasion.

He was a highly literate man, and although he wrote in German, he was deeply influenced by the English canon, writers such as Dickens and Shakespeare.

The following lines could have been spoken by Prospero, or even Hamlet: "All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."

My dictionary (Chamber's) describes his Manifesto as "a public written declaration of the intentions, opinions, or motives of a sovereign or of a leader, party, or body...".

I would argue, however, as I often do with dictionaries, that it's much more than that.

It's a statement of a collective, political, cultural and artistic movement.

The concept of manifesto, as a powerful statement of belief and intent, was developed throughout the 18th and 19th century, coinciding with the rise of the popular free press.

It peaked in the early 20th century, where it became an important tool for art as well as political movements. …

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