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ISBN: 006099486X / ISBN-13: 9780060994860

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

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Hailed by the "New York Times" as "a fascinating, spicy, learned tale, " this runaway national bestseller takes an extraordinary look into literary ... Show synopsis

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  • The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Harper Perennial) – Trade paperback (1999)
    by Simon Winchester

    The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

    Trade paperback, Harper Perennial
    1999
    English
    272 pages

    ISBN: 006099486X
    ISBN-13: 9780060994860

    The shocking story of the single greatest contributor to the first Oxford English Dictionary in 1857 reveals that the man who contributed 10,000 definitions to the book was in fact a patient in an asylum for the criminally insane. Reprint. 100,000 first printing. Tour. NYT.

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Reviews of The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Overall customer rating: 4.750
Paris7

A very good read

by Paris7 on May 2, 2013

What an interesting book, one filled with eccentric but useful people. I will now see the OED in quite another light.

Don S
by Don S on Sep 16, 2010

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.

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rejoyce

Normalcy and Madness

by rejoyce on Aug 20, 2007

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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