Lots of words this week. Oryx and Crake was written by a poetic storyteller and painter of words. The Professor and the Madman is a thrilling story about creating the Oxford English Dictionary. One I loved, one not so much.
Simon Winchester – The Professor and the Madman
You guys! Don’t you just LOVE words? This book seriously surprised me. Simon Winchester did some solid research on the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. I didn’t expect to be so entertained by the story of Dr. W.C. Minor, an American Civil War Surgeon, who found himself deeply involved in the writings of the Oxford English Dictionary from inside a criminal lunatic asylum. The Professor and the Madman follows Professor James Murray and Dr. Minor through their life stories and how their lives entwined to make the very first English dictionary a success.
Okay, sure there were parts that I had to push through, but overall I was hooked. I’ve never stopped to consider the work required in the late 1800’s to define and create a book of 414,825 words. The Professor and the Madman is much more than just the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Winchester found a page-turning way to keep readers thrilled by following the crazy stories surrounding Dr. Minor. Such an impressive book, and I’m calling it a must read for those who just love the English language. (Also, if anyone wants to buy me a 20 volume set of the OED that would be okay!)