The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

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9780060592356: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

From the bestselling author of
The Professor and the Madman,
The Map That Changed the World,
and Krakatoa

Writing with marvelous brio, Simon Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language and pays homage to the great dictionary makers from Samuel Johnson to Noah Webster before turning his unmatched talent for storytelling to the making of the most venerable of dictionaries The Oxford English Dictionary. Here the listener is presented with lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but sickly first editor Herbert Coleridge, the colorful, wildly eccentric Frederick Furnivall, and the incomparable James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent half a century as editor bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the minutiae of dictionary making, brings us to visit the unseemly corrugated iron shed that Murray grandly dubbed The Scriptorium, and introduces some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to the murderous 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 erected to a living language.

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About the Author:

Simon Winchester was a geologist at Oxford and worked in Africa and on offshore oil rigs before becoming a full-time globe-trotting foreign correspondent and writer. He currently lives on a small farm in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, an apartment in New York's West Village and in the Western Isles of Scotland.

From AudioFile:

The amazing history of the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY is recounted by its author, and it's a rousing listen. Rife with wit, anecdotes galore, and entertaining wordplay, this audiobook is a must for lovers of the English language. A worthy follow-up to Winchester's THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, this telling of the creation of the OED reminds one of a decades-long climb up a lexicographer's Everest, with much struggle, infighting, and politics determining the success of the endeavor. Winchester reads crisply, suavely, and convincingly, revealing himself to be an author completely at ease with both the microphone and his material, a rarity in audiobooks. The OED is a monumental achievement, and its history as told by Winchester is a milestone in the epic journey of our language. D.J.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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Winchester, Simon
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