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The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary - Simon Winchester
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
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3.63 115
From the best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary. Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up... show more
From the best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary. Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language--"so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy"--and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from "the irredeemably famous" Samuel Johnson to the "short, pale, smug and boastful" schoolmaster from New Hartford, Noah Webster. He then turns his unmatched talent for story-telling to the making of this most venerable of dictionaries. In this fast-paced narrative, the reader will discover lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but tubercular first editor Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), the colorful, boisterous Frederick Furnivall (who left the project in a shambles), and James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent a half-century bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the nuts-and-bolts of dictionary making--how unexpectedly tricky the dictionary entry for marzipan was, or how fraternity turned out so much longer and monkey so much more ancient than anticipated--and how bondmaid was left out completely, its slips found lurking under a pile of books long after the B-volume had gone to press. We visit the ugly corrugated iron structure that Murray grandly dubbed the Scriptorium--the Scrippy or the Shed, as locals called it--and meet some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption. The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language. Simon Winchester's supple, vigorous prose illuminates this dauntingly ambitious project--a seventy-year odyssey to create the grandfather of all word-books, the world's unrivalled uber-dictionary.
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Format: paperback
ISBN: 9780195175004 (019517500X)
ASIN: 019517500X
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages no: 288
Edition language: English
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Community Reviews
Peregrinations
Peregrinations rated it
3.0 The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
Enjoyable read but not for everyone.
ChelseaWriteNow
ChelseaWriteNow rated it
5.0 The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
A MUST for anyone with a love of words. Probably dreadfully dull for others. :P
Melody Murray's Books
Melody Murray's Books rated it
4.0 The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
Fascinating story behind my dream dictionary. The labor it took to create the OED out of whole cloth took multiple lifetimes. This book, while thorough and enjoyable, still leaves much untold. I want more.
Osho
Osho rated it
A pleasing history of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary by the author of the related The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, q.v. It used to be that one could get a copy of the Compact OED by joining a book club, and used c...
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