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The professor and the madman a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary

by Winchester, Simon.

Format: Kindle Book 2009 2009
  Adobe EPUB ebook
  OverDrive Read
Availability: Available from OverDrive 3 of 3 copies
Available from OverDrive (3)
Summary
A New York Times Notable Book The Professor and the Madman 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 making of the OED was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, was stunned to discover that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. But their surprise would pale in comparison to what they were about to discover when the committee insisted on honoring him. For Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.Masterfully researched and eloquently written, The Professor and the Madman "is the linguistic detective story of the decade." (William Safire, New York Times Magazine)This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
Contents
1. The dead of night in Lambeth Marsh
2. The man who taught Latin to cattle
3. The madness of war
4. Gathering Earth's daughters
5. The big dictionary conceived
6. The scholar in cell block two
7. Entering the lists
8. Annulated, art, brick-tea, buckwheat
9. The meeting of minds
10. The unkindest cut
11. Then only the monuments.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Distinguished journalist Winchester tells a marvelous, true story that few readers will have heard about. His narrative is based on official government files locked away for more than a century. As everyone knows, the Oxford English Dictionary is an essential library reference tool. The 12-volume OED took more than 70 years to produce, and one of its most distinguishing features is the copious quotations from published works to illustrate every shade of word usage. By the late 1890s the huge project was nearly half done, and the editor at the time, Professor James Murray, felt the need to meet and personally thank Dr. William Minor, with whom he had been in lengthy contact and who had contributed a lion's share of the quotations. As it turned out, Dr. Minor was an American surgeon who many years before had been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity but had been incarcerated in an English asylum ever since. The tale of their affiliation and friendship reads like a creatively conceived novel. --Brad Hooper"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The Oxford English Dictionary used 1,827,306 quotations to help define its 414,825 words. Tens of thousands of those used in the first edition came from the erudite, moneyed American Civil War veteran Dr. W.C. Minor¬Ďall from a cell at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Vanity Fair contributor Winchester (River at the Center of the World) has told his story in an imaginative if somewhat superficial work of historical journalism. Sketching Minor's childhood as a missionary's son and his travails as a young field surgeon, Winchester speculates on what may have triggered the prodigious paranoia that led Minor to seek respite in England in 1871 and, once there, to kill an innocent man. Pronounced insane and confined at Broadmoor with his collection of rare books, Minor happened upon a call for OED volunteers in the early 1880s. Here on more solid ground, Winchester enthusiastically chronicles Minor's subsequent correspondence with editor Dr. J.A.H. Murray, who, as Winchester shows, understood that Minor's endless scavenging for the first or best uses of words became his saving raison d'√™tre, and looked out for the increasingly frail man's well-being. Winchester fills out the story with a well-researched mini-history of the OED, a wonderful demonstration of the lexicography of the word "art" and a sympathetic account of Victorian attitudes toward insanity. With his cheeky way with a tale ("It is a brave and foolhardy and desperate man who will perform an autopeotomy" he writes of Minor's self-mutilation), Winchester celebrates a gloomy life brightened by devotion to a quietly noble, nearly anonymous task. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Peter Matson. BOMC selection. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Murray, James A. H. (James Augustus Henry), 1837-1915
Minor, William Chester
Oxford English dictionary
New English dictionary on historical principles
English language Lexicography History 19th century
Lexicographers Great Britain Biography
Psychiatric hospital patients Great Britain Biography
English language Etymology
Biography & Autobiography
Nonfiction
History
United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Veterans Biography.
Electronic books.
1837-1915.
19th century.
Civil War, 1861-1865
Publisher New York :HarperCollins e-books2009
2009
Contributors OverDrive, Inc.
Language English
System Details Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Format: OverDrive READ
Format: Kindle Book
Format: Adobe EPUB eBook
Requires Amazon Kindle or Adobe Digital Editions
Description 1 online resource
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [239]-242).
ISBN 9780061807602
9780061807602
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