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L'assassino più colto del mondo. Una storia di follia e amore per i libri nell'Inghilterra vittoriana (1998)

di Simon Winchester

Altri autori: Vedi la sezione altri autori.

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
12,083295534 (3.81)465
Biography & Autobiography. History. Language Arts. Nonfiction. HTML:

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.… (altro)

Aggiunto di recente dabiblioteca privata, lazalot, rebekahflora, tomhed, harrisoncotis, JinxLirin, InfamousKoala17, treegardner, Bambean
  1. 40
    The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession di Allison Hoover Bartlett (wrmjr66)
  2. 40
    Among the Gently Mad: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book Hunter in the Twenty-first Century di Nicholas A. Basbanes (bnbookgirl)
  3. 30
    A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books di Nicholas A. Basbanes (bnbookgirl)
  4. 20
    La città bianca e il diavolo di Erik Larson (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Both concern late-19th C American killers in the backdrop of a bigger social story of advancement (Chicago Fair and Oxford English Dictionary).
  5. 20
    The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary di Simon Winchester (PuddinTame)
    PuddinTame: Two accounts of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. The Meaning of Everything is a history of how the dictionary was created. The Professor and the Madman is focussed on a peculiar story: a detailed acccount of the man who contributed the most entries to the Oxford English Dictionary, while living in the Broadmoor Asylum (near Crawthorne) for the Criminally Insane.… (altro)
  6. 10
    Patience & Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture di Nicholas A. Basbanes (bnbookgirl)
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    The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures di Edward Ball (davesmind)
  8. 00
    Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary di K. M. Elisabeth Murray (KayCliff)
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» Vedi le 465 citazioni

It amuses me that this book about the dictionary is written in a very wordy style, enough so that I forgive Winchester for dragging things out a wee bit too long. A fascinating story indeed, especially for a lexicography buff like myself.

Even someone who's never given a second thought to the dictionary may well enjoy this book. I suggested it to customer even before having read it myself; his enthusiasm and profuse thanks compelled me to move it up on my To Be Read list!

It's a quick read (albeit one with many marvelous words not often encountered these days)and I recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of history, and a fun reality-check with regard to the origins of the online dictionaries and phone apps we rely upon these days! ( )
  Kim.Sasso | Aug 27, 2023 |
I can tell when a book is a true masterpiece because when people ask what I'm reading I feel compelled to provide not just a title but also sentences like: "Did you know that the very first dictionary wasn't until the 1750's?" and "Did you know that the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary predated words like 'typewriter' and 'schizophrenia'?" and "The OED was published in installments like a Dickens novel, taking over 40 years to publish?"

The story is just fascinating. From the very beginning -- the question of how and why to make a dictionary. Like many of the standardizations that begun in the 16th and 17th century, the idea that words should have standard spellings and meanings is pretty intuitive once you've thought of it, but requires an almost unimaginable amount of work. It's hard from this side of the google revolution to imagine how one even conceives of doing this much work. The group asked volunteers to read books from specified centuries, note down the words they found, the sentence it was in and send it in with citations. It was the complaints of poor handwriting and water damage that really hit home to me the intense work required in this plan. These scrips of paper were then sorted by the few OED editorial employees, selected, and set to the printing press(!) I was equally fascinated that a dictionary came so late in human history and that they managed to have a comprehensive dictionary so early.

Winchester intends for this to also be the story of Dr. Minor, who was one of the most important volunteer contributors, from where he sat incarcerated in an insane asylum, diagnosed with "monomacy" for his paranoid delusions. I found the story of a learned doctor, insane, but with preserved cognitive function, obsessively cultivating entries for the OED fascinating, but the story definitely lost steam when it deviated from being about the OED. In particular, the chapters of Dr. Minor's backstory and the chapter of Dr. Minor's dotage dragged. But overall, the story was fascinating and I learned a lot from this slim and readable book. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
The title says it all, and the author delivers it. Fantastic book. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Okay style of writing. Feels like the story could have come through the pages more vividly. Quite the storyline thought! ( )
  khotenko | Jul 13, 2023 |
Having read books by Pip Williams this is specific to a key contributor of the Oxford English Dictionary that required slips with a word and an example from texts of its meaning. A Dr W C Minor contributed significantly to this process and for 17 year he had not actually met with Dr Murray who was leading the Scriptoriums' project in London. This is a remarkable collection of research about Dir Minor and compliments The Dictionary of Lost Words and the Bookbinder of Jericho - both released 21-13 in South Australia
  Annabel1954 | Jul 11, 2023 |
Here, as so consistently throughout, Winchester finds exactly the right tool to frame the scene.
aggiunto da John_Vaughan | modificaPowells, Dave Weich (Oct 1, 2001)
 

» Aggiungi altri autori (22 potenziali)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Winchester, Simonautore primariotutte le edizioniconfermato
Hood, PhilipIllustratoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Out, PeterTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Pracher, RickProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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[Preface Popular myth has it that one of the most remarkable conversations in modern literary history took place on a cool and misty late autumn in 1896, in the small village of Crowthorne in the county of Berkshire.
The word (murder) has not been found in any Teut. lang. but Eng. and Gothic, but that it existed in continental WGer. is evident, as it is the source of OF. murdre, murtre (md. F. meurtre) and of med. L. mordrum, murdrum, and OHG.
[Postscript] And why this book is offered as a small testament to the late George Merrett of Wiltshire and Lambeth, without whose untimely death these events would never have unfolded and this tale could never have been told.
[Author's Note] But she won, and a grandfather I never met made a thousand guineas, all because of a word that briefly took his fancy.
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One word --and only one word-- was ever actually lost: bondmaid, which appears in Johnson's dictionary, was actually lost by Murray and was found, a stray without a home, long after the fascicle Battentlie - Bozzom had been published. It, and tens of thousands of words that had evolved or appeared during the forty-four years spent assembling the fascicles and their [twelve] parent volumes, appeared in a supplement, which came out in 1933. Four further supplements appeared between 1972 and 1986. In 1989, using the new abilities of the computer, Oxford University Press issued its fully integrated second edition, incorporating all the changes and additions of the supplements in twenty rather more slender volumes. [220]
Defining words properly is a fine and peculiar craft. There are rules—a word (to take a noun as an example) must first be defined according to the class of things to which it belongs (mammal, quadruped), and then differentiated from other members of that class (bovine, female). There must be no words in the definition that are more complicated or less likely to be known than the word being defined. The definition must say what something is, and not what it is not. If there is a range of meanings of any one word—cow having a broad range of meanings, cower having essentially only one—then they must be stated. And all the words in the definition must be found elsewhere in the dictionary—a reader must never happen upon a word in the dictionary that he or she cannot discover elsewhere in it. If the definer contrives to follow all these rules, stirs into the mix an ever-pressing need for concision and elegance—and if he or she is true to the task, a proper definition will probably result.
He would index and collect and collate words and sentences from each of the books, until his prison desk was heavy with the quires of paper, each one containing a master-list of the indexed words from his eclectic, very valuable and much valued little gem of a library.... He had made a key, a Victorian word-Rolodex, a dictionary-within-a-dictionary, and instantly available.
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UK title: The Surgeon of Crowthorne
US title: The Professor and the Madman
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Language Arts. Nonfiction. HTML:

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.

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