Meaning of Everything The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

ISBN-10: 019517500X

ISBN-13: 9780195175004

Edition: 2003

Authors: Simon Winchester

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Description:

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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Book details

List price: $19.99
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/14/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 288
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.594
Language: English

Simon Winchester has written works based on his travels through Africa, India and Hong Kong, including The River at the Center of the World (1996), about his trip along the Yangtze River. He has also written The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Alice Behind Wonderland and served as the Asia-Pacific editor for Conde Nast Traveler. He lives in Massachusetts and in the Western Isles of Scotland. His title The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2013.

Acknowledgements
List of Illustrations
Prologue
Taking the Measure of It All
The Construction of the Pigeon-Holes
The General Officer Commanding
Battling with the Undertow
Pushing through the Untrodden Forest
So Heavily Goes the Chariot
The Hermit and the Murderer--and Hereward Thimbleby Price
From Take to Turn-down--and then, Triumphal Valediction
Epilogue: And Always Beginning Again
Bibliography and Further Reading
Index
Picture Acknowledgements
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