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The Professor and the Madman Read...Discuss...Repeat!
September 2005 Selection: The Professor and the Madman
By: Simon Winchester
Copyright: 1998


About the Book:

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.

Related Web sites:

Review of The Professor and the Madman

Dictionary of American Regional English

American Dialect Society

Oxford English Dictionary

Interview with Simon Winchester

If You Like The Professor and the Madman, Try:

Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words. By: Bill Bryson. 2002.

Torn Wings and Faux Paus. By: Karen Elizabeth Gordon. 1997.

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. By: Simon Winchester. 2003.

Galileo's Daughter. By: Dava Sobel. 1999.

Map that Changed the World. By: Simon Winchester. 2001.

The Professor and the Madman Reader Comments:

A dictionary is something I used to take for granted. No more! What an enormous undertaking to produce a definitive dictionary of the English language -- 70 years in the making. The Professor and the Madman enlivens a seemingly tedious topic with an unlikely cast of players (including the expatriate physician turned self-mutilating mental ward), and an engaging historical perspective.

-- Rob B.
Bennett Martin Public Library.
Customer Review Score - 9


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