The Professor and the Madman

The Professor and the Madman

A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Audiobook CD - 2005
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The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

This audio also includes a conversation between Simon Winchester and John Simpson, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary

Publisher: New York : Harper Audio, c2005
ISBN: 9780060836269
0060836261
Branch Call Number: CD BK 423.092 WIN
Characteristics: 6 sound discs (7.5 hr.) :,digital ;,4 3/4 in

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jwhite412 Dec 15, 2011

NON-FICTION: “masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness and genius, and the incredible obsessions of two ordinary men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.” I have already recommended this book to two other readers. It is a rare thing for me to enjoy a non-fiction work. The book was entertaining, educational, and very readable. The main premise was fascinating to me – how do you define your language when there IS no dictionary? That there was a time when there WAS no dictionary, never occurred to me. When was it written? How was it created? How is a word defined and by whom? (What does a word mean? Who says?) The construction of the novel was brilliant: the interspersion of the Dickensonian tale of the murderous madman with the dry study of the wordsmiths who labored over the OED, and the way the author began the main chapters with a pertinent keyword and definition (ie: MURDER: noun. The most heinous kind of criminal homicide…)

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