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Dictionary of the Undoing Reviews

Dictionary of the Undoing by John Freeman

Dictionary of the Undoing

John Freeman

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Corsair
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 14 Jan 2020
ISBN: 9781472154774

Dictionary of the Undoing is a necessary, resounding cri de coeur in defense of language, meaning, and our ability to imagine, describe, and build a better world.

4 stars out of 5
21 Feb 2020

"Freeman’s diagnosis is worryingly persuasive, largely due to the intellectual and rhetorical integrity of its argument."

The author’s limpid prose underpins a refreshing clarity of moral purpose, and there exists a poetic charge in the metaphors that ushers these essays shimmering into the realm of the literary, all the while avoiding the obfuscating argot of theory, as here: “the eternal inner sense of equity –the one we recognise in the way we know when the moon is out before looking up”.

In keeping with his civic mission, Freeman unflinchingly poses salient and discomfiting questions throughout. The writing exerts great oratorical force upon the reader, but a force backed up by clear-sighted honesty, cogent thought and keen conscience: “You are the only way out. Only you can do something.


3 stars out of 5
22 Jan 2020

" Whatever you think of the style of delivery ... you can’t fault the logic"

 Freeman takes us through an alphabet of words which, he believes, have the power to effect change, if only we can come to understand them in subtly different ways. In the current climate, he argues, the word “agitate” has negative connotations: we are all agitated, in the era of social media, and agitated people are “more easily manipulated... agitated consumers buy... agitated consumers eat faster.” What would happen, he wonders, if we all turned away from our screens and looked to “the street, the public square, the free press (printed on paper and distributed)” and determined to “redefine agitate as an active word... as in to agitate for change”.