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

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9780198607021: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
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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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About the Author:


Simon Winchester is the author of the bestsellers The Map That Changed the World, The Madman and the Professor, and Krakatoa. He was a foreign correspondent for The Guardian and The Sunday Times and was based in Belfast, New Delhi, New York, London and Hong Kong. Winchester has written for Conde Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. He lives in Massachusetts, New York, and 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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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780195175004: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

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ISBN 10:  019517500X ISBN 13:  9780195175004
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2004
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9780198814399: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

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9780192805768: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

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9780965499637: The Meaning of Everything (The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary)

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9780641715617: The Meaning Of Everything. The Story Of The Oxford English Dictionary

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