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Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Signed)

Winchester, Simon

ISBN 10: 0060175966 / ISBN 13: 9780060175962
Edité par Harper Collins, 1998
Etat : Near Fine Couverture rigide
Vendeur Shaker Mill Books (W. Stockbridge, MA, Etats-Unis)

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A bright, tight edition signed by the author on the title page. DJ is uncut; clean & colorful w/light rubbing to edges; now protected in mylar. Text is well-bound w/light bumps at spine ends; pages clean & sharp throughout. N° de réf. du libraire WS11739

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Détails bibliographiques

Titre : Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, ...

Éditeur : Harper Collins

Date d'édition : 1998

Reliure : Hardcover

Etat du livre :Near Fine

Etat de la jaquette : Near Fine

Signé : Signed by Author(s)

Edition : 1st Edition

A propos de ce titre

Synopsis :

Mysterious (mistîe · ries), a. [f. L. mystérium Mysteryi + ous. Cf. F. mystérieux.]
1. Full of or fraught with mystery; wrapt in mystery; hidden from human knowledge or understanding; impossible or difficult to explain, solve, or discover; of obscure origin, nature, or purpose.

It is known as one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters. The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds, and organized the sprawling language into 414,825 precise definitions. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story--a story of two remarkable men whose strange twenty-year relationship lies at the core of this historic undertaking.

Professor James Murray, an astonishingly learned former schoolmaster and bank clerk, was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon from New Haven, Connecticut, who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors who submitted illustrative quotations of words to be used in the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, handwritten quotations from his home in the small village of Crowthorne, fifty miles from Oxford. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly--and mysteriously--refused.

Thus the two men, for two decades, maintained a close relationship only through correspondence. Finally, in 1896, after Minor had sent nearly ten thousand definitions to the dictionary but had still never traveled from his home, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray finally learned the truth about Minor--that, in addition to being a masterful wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane--and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics.

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness and genius, and the incredible obsessions of two men at the heart of the Oxford English Dictionary and literary history. With riveting insight and detail, Simon Winchester crafts a fascinating glimpse into one man's tortured mind and his contribution to another man's magnificent dictionary.

Review:

When the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary put out a call during the late 19th century pleading for "men of letters" to provide help with their mammoth undertaking, hundreds of responses came forth. Some helpers, like Dr. W.C. Minor, provided literally thousands of entries to the editors. But Minor, an American expatriate in England and a Civil War veteran, was actually a certified lunatic who turned in his dictionary entries from the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Simon Winchester has produced a mesmerizing coda to the deeply troubled Minor's life, a life that in one sense began with the senseless murder of an innocent British brewery worker that the deluded Minor believed was an assassin sent by one of his numerous "enemies."

Winchester also paints a rich portrait of the OED's leading light, Professor James Murray, who spent more than 40 years of his life on a project he would not see completed in his lifetime. Winchester traces the origins of the drive to create a "Big Dictionary" down through Murray and far back into the past; the result is a fascinating compact history of the English language (albeit admittedly more interesting to linguistics enthusiasts than historians or true crime buffs). That Murray and Minor, whose lives took such wildly disparate turns yet were united in their fierce love of language, were able to view one another as peers and foster a warm friendship is just one of the delicately turned subplots of this compelling book. --Tjames Madison

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Shaker Mill Books is the annex of The Bookloft in Great Barrington, MA, one of the only independent bookstores in the Berkshires for over 35 years. Located in West Stockbridge, MA, Shaker Mill Books houses nearly ten thousand rare, out-of-print and/or signed books. We specialize in Berskhire Books (many now out-of-print or otherwise unavailable), including local histories and biographies, as well as a large collection of books by nature writer Hal Borland.

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