“Words shape ideas and ideas shape souls.”
—Adam Gropnik, The New Yorker columnist
Words have fearsome potential, a latent power that tyrant Stalin appreciated and feared.
At a banquet for 40 of the leading writers of the Soviet Union in 1932, Stalin referred to writers as “engineers of the human soul.”
Engineers of the human soul. What a turn of phrase.
Carpenters build with saws and lathes. Writers with words.
Within a decade Stalin had murdered 11 of the 40 present at that 1932 gathering. He understood all too well what words are capable of.