Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere

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Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere

Christopher Hitchens

(From Spoken English Example Videos for Language Study)

Christopher Hitchens addresses an audience at Rutgers University March 29, 2001.

Difficulty level: 9/10

Dialect: British (Oxbridge) English

This is a lecture by one of the great men of letters to a highly educated audience. It is worth listening to without any attempt to take notes or look up words -- just for the sound and cadence of the language. It is then wise to analyse it more closely for vocabulary and expressive constructs, and then listen to it again.

Points to look for:

Hitchens speaks of the power of the word to persuade, and few are better equipped to demonstrate this than he. Note that he consistently commits two "SAT errors", synesis and eliptical references. Though clearly forbidden according to the SAT, one is forced to conclude that that prohibition is open to debate.

(Quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

See Hitchens' article: An introduction to the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley


Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. - Edward Everett