This book is exactly as advertised, only much more so. You expect the brief outline of the English language, the history of early lexicography, but perhaps not the enthralling detail about the individual contributors to what would become the OED, not only the major editors, but the staff, and the immense number of reader volunteers who made the dictionary possible. At some point the author says something to the effect that the editors didn't care what the personal circumstances or characters of the volunteer contributors were, so long as they were competent, and for me the most moving aspect of this book was in the later chapters when some of these readers and contributors are described. At times, I was brought to tears by their stories. As presented here, the OED was a labour of love--paid sometimes, more often not--of many people, for some of whom their work on it seems to have acted as a kind of redemption in lives otherwise lost in frustration, obscurity, or madness.
Well, I loved it. The author's humanistic outlook shines through every line, and furthermore he is a very pleasant reader!
For everyone who has ever pondered entries in the OED and wondered (among other things) how they could ever have located and organized all those quotations before the age of the computer...this is the book for you.
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