Hailed by the "New York Times" as "a fascinating, spicy, learned tale, " this runaway national bestseller takes an extraordinary look into literary ...Show synopsisHailed by the "New York Times" as "a fascinating, spicy, learned tale, " this runaway national bestseller takes an extraordinary look into literary genius, madness, and the making of the"Oxford English Dictionary."Hide synopsis
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (HarperCollins Publishers) – Hardcover (1998)
Hardcover, HarperCollins Publishers 1998
ISBN: 0060175966 ISBN-13: 9780060175962
The riveting true story of Dr. W.C. Minor--the ingenious but insane American Civil War veteran who contributed more than 10,000 definitions to the Oxford English Dictionary.The riveting true story of Dr. W.C. Minor--the ingenious but insane American Civil War veteran who contributed more than 10,000 definitions to the Oxford English Dictionary.Hide
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The American edition of "The Surgeon of Crowthorne" is a fascinating story as well as an excellent read. The subject has been superbly researched - as is a hallmark of any Simon Winchester book - and is all the more worthy because it's not a subject that gets much attention by the general reader. The two central characters are so well drawn that it makes for an absorbing read. The only minor quibble is that some of the side stories meander to the point of distraction.
Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman is a model of nonfiction, fascinating, intelligent, and elegantly written, telling the utterly compelling story of Prof. Murray, the editor of the first Oxford English Dictionary, and his friendship with Captain Minor, who was committed to an insane asylum for murder and became one of the most prolific volunteer contributors to the peerless text. It's about a mad life partly redeemed by scholarship. The book also raises serious questions about the lines between normalcy and madness, and the peculiarities of a mind at once so ill and delusional, yet so rigorous. The reader is also given devastating glimpses of the Victorian Lambeth slums, Minor's adolescent lusts in Ceylon, his horrible self-castration, and his increasingly debilitating "monomania" in old age. In contrast, Murray's "character" is overshadowed, but he seems a model of decorum and consideration in his treatment of Minor. But perhaps most astonishing of all is the 70-year heroic undertaking to complete the OED itself. An altogether absorbing read.
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