(P) and ©1998 HarperCollins Publishers Inc., All Rights Reserved, Harper Audio, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers
"Madness, violence, arcane obsessions, weird learning, ghastly comedy �" (Literary Review)
"An extraordinary tale...a splendid book." (The Economist)
This is a great book. It tells the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. The story centres around two characters primarily, Minor (the madman) and Murray(the professor).
It gives bit of a life story of Minor, and tells how he came to be locked up in an asylum. It also gives some information about the history of English dictionaries, and about the process by which the OED was compiled.
Minor, obviously bored living in isolation, and besides his madness very intelligent, took to indexing and providing quotations of the words in all his books. As the dicitonary team progress through the alphabet, Minor would ask which words they were working on, and look up in his home made rolodex, the book titles and page numbers in his vast collection of books, then copy out the required quotations and send them to the dictionary team for inclusion.
He is said to have been one of the most prolific contributors. There's nothing particularly exciting in this audio book, but it is a fascinating historical story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. First and foremost, I am glad that I chose the abridged version. While I found the topic interesting (if only for the fact that I never really thought about it before), I don't think that I could have been drawn in as completely and consistently for a longer duration. Whether this stems from the topic itself or the fact that I have been listening to many unabridged works lately and just needed a break, I can't be sure. I can say that the book was well-narrated and kept a lively and interesting pace throughout.
Great Book. It was so well crafted; despite it's length relative to it's topic, it held my interest thruout the 'book'. My first listen & my favorite.
Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken
Like most Audible readers, I don't normally "go for" abridged books, but in this case I was glad I did, spurred on by the fact that Simon Jones is my all-time favorite narrator.
This is the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, a feat that spanned more than half a century, and of two distinct personalities who were the driving force and major contributor to the project, respectively. In this is fascinating and extremely well done presentation, the "madman"--an American medical doctor and Civil War veteran who suffered from an extreme form of paranoia and wound up in Broadmoor, the British institution for the criminally insane--is naturally enough the more intense and interesting of the two title characters.
A third major "character" is the dictionary itself, a vibrant and ever-changing force throughout the English-speaking world and a supreme legacy of all the men described here. I suspect that the OED is the character given short shrift in this abridgment, and that the full version of WInchester's book contains much more detail on lexicography and printing.
This story seemed too unbelievable to be true. Very interesting that this story is a piece of history yet no one has every known it. Great Purchase
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