Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr Johnson's Dictionary

Front Cover
Macmillan, Oct 17, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 292 pages
23 Reviews
 A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year
 
In 1746, Samuel Johnson undertook the Herculean task of writing the first comprehensive English dictionary. Imagining he could complete the job in three years, Johnson in fact took more than eight, and the dictionary itself turned out to be as much a work of literature as it was an invaluable reference. In alphabetized chapters, from "Adventurous" to "Zootomy," Henry Hitchings tells of Johnson's toil and triumph and offers a closer look at the definitions themselves, which were alive with invention, poetry, erudition, and, at times, hilarious imprecision. The story of Johnson's adventure into the essence of words is an entertainment that "sparkles on every page" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

This short book not only explains the significance of Johnson's dictionary, it offers an overview of his life and his place in English letters.. Hitchings positions the dictionary, and much of Johnson's other work, in its personal and historical context. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rlangston - LibraryThing

A disappointing book, which did not really cover how the dictionary itself was put together (compare for example with the excellent Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester in relation to the OED ... Read full review

Contents

ADVENTUROUS
3
AMULET
9
APPLE
15
BOOKWORM
18
COMMONER
22
DARKLING
26
TO DECAMP
35
TO DISSIPATE
45
OPINIONIST
150
OPULENCE
162
PASTERN
172
PATRON
180
PHILOLOGY
187
PLEASUREFUL
194
TO PREFACE
203
PUBLICATION
208

ENGLISH
50
ENTRANCE
57
FACTOTUM
64
TO GATHER
69
HIGGLEDYPIGGLEDY
78
LEXICOGRAPHER
87
LIBRARY
102
MELANCHOLY
112
MICROSCOPE
125
NETWORK
131
NICETY
135
TO NOTE
141
RECEPTION
215
TRIUMPHANT
222
UBIQUITY
228
VARIETY
233
WEIGHTINESS
239
X
251
ZOOTOMY
257
NOTES
261
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
279
INDEX
281
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Henry Hitchings was born in 1974. Educated at the universities of Oxford and London, he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Samuel Johnson. Defining the World is his first book. He lives in London and contributes to a wide range of newspapers and periodicals.

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