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

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Macmillan, Oct 17, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 292 pages
26 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

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

User Review  - Li'l Vishnu - Goodreads

If a similar vagueness clouds Johnson's definition of 'adder' ('a serpent, a viper, a poisonous reptile; perhaps of any species'), his definition of 'tarantula' is positively opaque. Johnson tell us ... Read full review

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Contents

I
3
II
9
III
15
IV
18
V
22
VI
26
VII
35
VIII
45
XXI
150
XXII
162
XXIII
172
XXIV
180
XXV
187
XXVI
194
XXVII
203
XXVIII
208

IX
50
X
57
XI
64
XII
69
XIII
78
XIV
87
XV
102
XVI
112
XVII
125
XVIII
131
XIX
135
XX
141
XXIX
215
XXX
222
XXXI
228
XXXII
233
XXXIII
239
XXXIV
251
XXXV
257
XXXVI
261
XXXVII
279
XXXVIII
281
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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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