The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.)

By Simon Winchester
Binding:Paperback
Publisher:Harper Perennial, (7/1/2005)
Language:English



Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)


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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 began in 1857, it 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 P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

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Harriet's thoughts on "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.)"
updated on:8/1/2013



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Silver's Reviews's thoughts on "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.)"
updated on:7/24/2010

This book is excellent for any word lover, but is a bit stilted and detailed.  

It was very clever how the author put a page from the dictionary as the beginning of each chapter and the subject of that chapter dealt with the word.   

From page 220..."The total length of type--all hand-set, for the books were done by letterpress, still discernible in the delicately impressed feel of the inked-on paper--is 178 miles, the distance between London and the outskirts of Manchester."

Dr. Minor, the madman, was an interesting character and the perfect person to "write" the English Oxford Dictionary...the professor, (Professor Murray) was perfect as well.  You feel sorry for Dr. Minor in his circumstances, but rejoice at what he did.

His death and burial are described as this:  From Page 219..."Dr. William Minor, who was among the greatest of contributors to the finest dictionary in all the English language, died forgotten in obscurity, and is buried beside a slum."

It isn't of high interest, but keeps you reading because of the history.

I was wavering between a 2 and a 3 but am going with  a 3/5 rating.

Mildly Unleashable


"The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.)"
By Simon Winchester

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)


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