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