22 / CHRONICLESnvigorously embraces the Marxist ideanof the dehumanization wrought by thencash nexus, seen in the commerciahzationnof sports in the U.S. and thenconversion of ideas into commodities.nDespite his distaste for capitahsm,nhe grudgingly admits that “politicalnfreedom in modern times . . . hasnonly appeared in capitalist states” andnthat “nonstate employment” seems tonbe a requirement of political freedomn”as we know it,” at any rate.nI suspect that the author’s deepestnantipathy toward capitalism is rootedn—as is often the case—in a perceptionnof it as a relendessly rational-nsecular, desacralizing force:nCapitalism would be impossiblenin a sacralized world to whichnmen would relate with awe andnveneration, just as suchnattitudes cannot arise in ansociety in which exchangenvalue has reduced to ancommon denominator allnuse-values.nSo perhaps this is the critical pointnwhere the rejection of capitalism andnthe affinity for socialism converge.nCapitalism has certainly brought, innWeber’s world, disenchantment to thenPleasant Words & Ugly Booksn”Then shall I dare these real ills to hidenIn tinsel trappings of poetic pride?”nFair of Speech: The Uses ofnEuphemism edited by D.J. Enright,nOxford and New York: OxfordnUniversity Press.nPlausible Prejudices: Essays onnAmerican Writing by JosephnEpstein, New York: W.W. Norton;n$17.95.nEnglish must be kept up. It rarelynis. But what a splendid collectionnof offenses against it is in D.J. Enright’snbook of euphemism. Thosenwho delight in the instructions fornJapanese small appliances will herenencounter the ultimate in linguisticnself-destruction. Here is a pair of advertisementsnfor continental hotelsnanxious to sound contemporary: Thenfirst offers “two rooms with a vulgarnbalcony and excommunicating doors”nalong with a gift-shop where you cannbuy “jolly memorials for when younpass away.” I particularly like the second,nwhich says of its rooms, “I amnsuperb in bed,” and which advertisesnfor breakfast “patty of fungus anspecialty.”nRonald Berman’s most recent book isnCulture & Politics (University Pressnof America).n—George Crabbenby Ronald BermannThe word euphemism is older thannwe think. Both word and idea suggestnmiddle-class hypocrisy but hypocrisyn—and ingenuity and over-refinementnand rhetorical play—are much oldernthan the middle class. The word itselfngoes back to the mid-17th century,nwhen it was defined as “a good ornfavourable interpretation of a badnword.” Its great uses then were as nownin detailing, or in camouflaging, realitiesnof politics and sexuality. It is importantnto realize that euphemism canndo both: it can hide, or it can delineateneven more sharply with metaphor thannwe can by image.nHow could public language go onnwithout using intimacy in place ofnsexual intercourse; underprivileged insteadnoi poor, turf accountant insteadnof bookie; social security for a programnthat has gone broke? Some of the greatnphrases of our time are euphemismsn—especially those for military retreatsnor civil disasters or ignominious personalnfailure. But it does get to bentiresome and morally dangerous, Inthink, to be reminded that TV camerasnspy on us in stores “for your ownnprotection” or that commercials fornsome profitable cause are done as “anpublic ser’ice.” The editor reminds usnthat public euphemism is Orwelliannnnworld and has demystified it to thenpoint of acute discomfort to many ofnthose exposed to the process. Socialismnraised hopes about restoring orncreating an equilibrium between a benevolentnrationality and somethingnclose to, or approximating, the notionnof the sacred. Both Heilbroner andnHowe, and many of those on the samenwavelength, know that socialism in itsnexisting forms failed to make up for thenravages of capitalism. But since therenis a shortage of redemptive ideologiesnrespectable enough for these Westernnintellectuals, the attachment to socialismncannot vet be severed.nand does more harm beyond the rhetoricalnrealms of “sex, bowel movements,nmenstruation, money, sickness,nand natural death.”nThe historical information in Fair ofnSpeech seems to hold more water thannits criticism. I don’t think I’m convincednthat Jane Austen is being coy innPride and Prejudice when she tells usnwhy Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth.nThe novel tells us repeatedly aboutn”the beautiful expression of her darkneyes.” Darcy mentions them often andnthe narrator tries to offset other thingsnby their mention. Elizabeth does notnconform to the tall, full-chested,nwhite-skinned type of Regency beauty.nShe makes up for being mediumnheight and sunburned by those intelligentnand attractive eyes. But the modernneuphemist thinks otherwise andntells us that “a fine pair of eyes” reallynmeans a fine pair of “big tits.” SuddenlynJane Austen looks either puritanicalnor sneaking—and Elizabeth Bennetnlooks a lot different herself.nJane Austen is famously honest andndoesn’t mind telling us about mistressesnor bastards or anything else. It seemsnunlikely that she would bother withncamouflage here. And the euphemistnis probably too suspicious withoutnbeing critical enough—novelists innthe 19th century made their sexualnpoints through symbolism. Dickens isna very sexy writer when he talks aboutneyes in David Copperfield—eithernthose of Mr. Murdstone or of Rosan