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Post-Liberation Litotes


"His politics was not that of a timid old gentleman appalled by the idea of shunning litotes."—Albert Cohen


I thought it Liberal to be clever.

My contribution's lost forever.

I wasn't wrong to make no fuss,

But in the upshot missed the bus.

A figure in unwritten history.

Oh, well, the joke's, Who shouldn't be!?


Tit for tat's not my cup of tea,

For murder's move's disputable.

Flotsam and jetsam can't agree

Though the verdict's irrefutable.

Fucked, the virtuous terrorist,

Finessed along corruption's piste,

Brave enough—but wrong, you see!



Epigraph: Albert Cohen, "Churchill d'Angleterre" (1943): « Sa politique n'est pas celle d'un vieux monsieur timide, épouvanté à l'idée de ne pas faire de litotes. »


Litotes: "A [rhetorical] figure in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary . . . e.g., a citizen of no mean city" (OED, sv). From Greek λιτότης, "frugality" or "simplicity." Pronunciation in English as "lai -tow-tees" is an error—German correctly renders both the i and e in "litotes" like the i in German ist (or English "is"), and Modern Greek pronounces the ι and η in λιτότης that way too.

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