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

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 292 pages
26 Reviews
By the early eighteenth century, France and Italy had impressive lexicons, but there was no authoritative dictionary of English. Sensing the deficit, and impelled by a mixture of national pride and commercial expedience, the prodigious polymath Samuel Johnson embraced the task, turning over the garret of his London home to the creation of his own giant dictionary.
Johnson imagined that he could complete the job in three years. But the complexity of English meant that his estimate was wildly inadequate. Only after he had expended nearly a decade of his prime on the task did the dictionary finally appear - magisterial yet quirky, dogmatic but generous of spirit, and steeped in the richness of English literature. It would come to be seen as the most important British cultural monument of the eighteenth century, and its influence fanned out across Europe and throughout Britain's colonies - including, crucially, America.
Brilliantly entertaining and enlightening, " Defining the World" is the story of Johnson's heroic endeavor, 250 years after the first publication of the "Dictionary." In alphabetically sequenced chapters, Henry Hitchings describes Johnson's adventure - his ambition and vision, his moments of despair, the mistakes he made along the way, and his ultimate triumph.

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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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Bookslut | Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr ...
Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary by Henry Hitchings. A biography of Samuel Johnson, creator of Johnson's Dictionary, ...
www.bookslut.com/ nonfiction/ 2006_01_007449.php

Defining the World | Samuel Johnson | Henry Hitchings
Defining the World | Samuel Johnson | Henry Hitchings
www.ralphmag.org/ EQ/ samuel-johnson.html

‘Defining the World’ - New York Times
Samuel Johnson’s giant ‘Dictionary of the English Language’ was an audacious attempt to tame his unruly native tongue.
www.nytimes.com/ 2005/ 12/ 04/ books/ chapters/ 1204-1st-hitc.html?pagewanted=print

Horizon Information Portal
Defining the world : the extraordinary story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary /. by Hitchings, Henry, 1974- · View full image. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. ...
hip.wright.lib.oh.us/ ipac20/ ipac.jsp?session=1194LA090S968.965& profile=dial& uri=link=1100002~!312415~!1100001~!11000...

Mr. S.'s biblioblog
Henry Hitchings, Defining The World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. Back in 1988 at Saint Xavier University, I took a class taught by ...
biblioblog204.blogspot.com/ 2007/ 01/ henry-hitchings-defining-world.html

Johnson, Samuel: Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr ...
Johnson, Samuel Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. Henry Hitchings. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005. 292 pp. ...
findarticles.com/ p/ articles/ mi_hb032/ is_200601/ ai_n18829325

Johnson, Samuel: Defining the World: The Extraordinary
Johnson, Samuel Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. Henry Hitchings. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005. 2.
www.encyclopedia.com/ doc/ 1G1-146347006.html

89.3 KPCC | airtalk archives for 1/16/2006 - 1/20/2006
KPCC / Southern California Public Radio's home page with news, forums, radio broadcast schedules, and links to its productions including airtalk with host ...
www.scpr.org/ programs/ airtalk/ listings/ 2006/ 01/ airtalk_20060116.shtml

Macmillan: Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr ...
Macmillan: Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr Johnson's Dictionary Henry Hitchings: Bonus Publisher Materials: Praise, Author Biography.
us.macmillan.com/ definingtheworld

Guide to Johnson — The Dictionary
Henry Hitchings, Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2005). ...
andromeda.rutgers.edu/ ~jlynch/ Johnson/ Guide/ dict.html

About the author (2005)

Henry Hitchings was born in 1974. Educated at the universities of Oxford and London, he is the author of "Defining the World "and has contributed to many newspapers and magazines.

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