The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument erected to a living language.
©2003 Simon Winchester; (P)2003 HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc.
"With his usual winning blend of scholarship and accessible, skillfully paced narrative...[Simon] Winchester successfully brings readers inside the day-to-day operations of the massive project and shows us the unrelenting passion of people...who, in the end, succeeded magnificently. Winchester's book will be required reading for word mavens and anyone interested in the history of our marvelous, ever-changing language." (Publishers Weekly)
"Teeming with knowledge and alive with insights. Winchester handles humor and awe with modesty and cunning." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Entrancing." (Chicago Tribune)
When you finish listening to this book, you will have a new found respect and admiration for dictionaries and the enduring characters who are responsible for creating them. Some complained that the book was nothing but a thesaurus of word origins. True, it starts out that way, but it definitely does not end that way. You are taken through decades of struggle, defeat and ultimate success. How the OED was ever completed was a miracle, but also a testament to the strength and endurance of the men who created it.
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.
I bought this audio book because I love words but it was so much more than just a story of words. It was the story of a massive undertaking by fascinating people transcending 80 years which resulted in the English language having order for the first time. The plot contained protagonists and foils all with quirks and peccadilloes. The words were rich and joyous, but l enjoyed the people and the story more. It was clear that the author loved his material and by reading it himself did more justice to it than someone else reading it. I hope that this book might find a wide audience because it is a most deserving narrative.
I have listened to nearly three dozen audiobooks and i would definitely rate this in the top 5.
This is the type of book that outside the normal course for many listeners that I would encourage them to try. You will be pleasantly surprised.
A very interesting listen with lots of information about the people involved in making the dictionary and a fair amount about the words that comprise it as well as some insights into the lexicographer's art.
Aptly, Simon Winchester manages to wield a delightfully rich vocabulary in telling his history.
Subject matter. I liked how they made the slips and accumulated them to create the dictionary.
The Professor and the Madman because it is the same author, narrator and story but focuses on only one particular contributor to the OED.
I liked the different editors and their approaches to creating the OED.
I loved the subject matter but compared to his other book on the same subject this is a bit boring. I am going to listen to it again to get more of the information. I think if I pay better attention to it and try to focus.
Biomedical entrepreneur. Lifelong Libertarian. Yoga enthusiast.
Lacks engagement. More or less a drone narration of facts with some interesting anecdotes and stories here and there.
What a disappointment. After seeing this in the bookstore, I was excited to start listening to it on my iPod. I was expecting an enticing story that told of the challenges faced by the creators of the OED; what I got was a virtual thesaurus of word origins and histories of the cultures they came from. Yawn.
Of all the books by Simon Winchester that I've "read", this was sooooo boring that I didn't even finsh it. The historical books on natural disasters - "Krakatoa", "A Crack in the Edge of the World" (1906 San Francisco Earthquake) - and the history of geology - "The Map that Changed the World" were very interesting. Even the "Professor and the Mad Man" was an OK listen. So I thought this book was a natural progression... but it lost my attention and I couldn't finish.
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