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Professoren og galningen : en beretning om mord, sindssyge og tilblivelsen… (1998)

af Simon Winchester

Andre forfattere: Se andre forfattere sektionen.

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
10,368255493 (3.8)411
The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds, and organized the sprawling language into 414,825 precise definitions. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story - a story of two remarkable men whose strange twenty-year relationship lies at the core of this historic undertaking. Professor James Murray, an astonishingly learned former schoolmaster and bank clerk, was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon from New Haven, Connecticut, who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors who submitted illustrative quotations of words to be used in the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, handwritten quotations from his home in the small village of Crowthorne, fifty miles from Oxford. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly - and mysteriously - refused. Thus the two men, for two decades, maintained a close relationship only through correspondence. Finally, in 1896, after Minor had sent nearly ten thousand definitions to the dictionary but had still never traveled from his home, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray finally learned the truth about Minor - that, in addition to being a masterful wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane - and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics.… (mere)
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The Professor and the Madman:
A Tale of Murder,Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
- Winchester

Audio performance by the author
4 stars

Much of this interesting history reads like a novel. It didn’t have the fictionalized melodrama of the movie that I watched recently, but it kept my attention from beginning to end. The audiobook, read by the author, was very well done, but I enjoyed the use of OED definitions more in the text copy.

It didn’t surprise me that Dr. Minor became obsessed with compiling referent quotations. I’ve used word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and other repetitive activities many years ago when I worked as a psych aide. As a teacher similar, if much easier, tasks could sometimes help calm a special needs child. Given the lack of other treatments in the 19th century, it was fortunate that Dr. Minor was allowed to use dictionary tasks to engage his attention. It was useful work, and for a while it helped to contain his delusions.

This book was first published in 1998. The audiobook included an author interview with John Simpson, the chief editor of the OED. It wasn’t clear when the interview took place, but I found it interesting. There’s some discussion of a cd rom edition of the dictionary and how the ongoing work was becoming mostly electronic. Interesting, but not nearly as interesting as thousands of little strips of paper submitted by a lunatic. ( )
  msjudy | Jan 12, 2021 |
A history of making the Oxford English Dictionary. If it sounds boring, that's because it is. Some of the bits regarding William Chester Miner, the "madman" were interesting, but by and large this book was pretty boring. ( )
  Andjhostet | Jan 11, 2021 |
I was really excited about reading this and had heard nothing but good reviews. The subject was fascinating, and I really enjoyed the details of creating the dictionary as well as the creative use of volunteers. However, the author assumed and added to the story entirely too much for non-fiction. I enjoy narrative non-fiction, but I think Winchester would have been better off writing a historical novel based on these events. For example, one of the earliest anecdotes of the book is later revealed to be a popular rumor. I spent most of the book thinking that the first encounter between Minor and Murray was a fact when later it was shown to be false; their meeting was much less dramatic.

Winchester uses the following words much too often: presumably, probably, unlikely but possible, perhaps, might have . . . This is non-fiction, and he spends a large position of the book giving hypotheses and potential scenarios, however unlikely. He spends pages trying to ties events together and explain Minor's mental illness as a reaction to specific events in his life (that may or may not have happened). I was completely disgusted when Winchester suggests an affair between Minor and his victim's widow that was very unlikely but could have happened, and uses that as a reason for a violent action Minor takes twenty years later. Ugh. That just seemed completely made up for the purpose of making the book more salacious.

Lastly, Winchester is very repetitive ad I kept wondering if I was rereading the same chapter or section. The only saving grace to this book was the examination of dictionaries and the OED. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
Entertaining, casually enlightening and occasionally moving. Written with Winchester's typical wit and enthusiasm and thoroughly researched. Ultimately held back to me by the narrowness of its subject matter: nothing I learned in this book changed how I thought about the world, nor will likely give me any lasting anecdotes. In this sense, I got more from Winchester's [b:Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded|25017|Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded|Simon Winchester|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1407108467s/25017.jpg|2084098] and [b:The Map That Changed the World|25014|The Map That Changed the World|Simon Winchester|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1436981852s/25014.jpg|1413457]. One area that could have deepened the book is if he would have delved more into the history of mental illness along with the history of dictionaries; as it was his quick survey near the end left me wanting more. ( )
  dhmontgomery | Dec 13, 2020 |
This book sounded really good. I had no knowledge of the story of the making of the OED, much less anything about the madman doctor. I learned a lot from this book. The writing wasn't the best, especially toward the end. There was a lot of repetition in the book. So, good subject matter but could have been better; hence, 3 stars. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
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Here, as so consistently throughout, Winchester finds exactly the right tool to frame the scene.
tilføjet af John_Vaughan | RedigerPowells, Dave Weich (Oct 1, 2001)
 

» Tilføj andre forfattere (22 mulige)

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Winchester, Simonprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Hood, PhilipIllustratormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Out, PeterOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Pracher, RickOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Popular myth has it that one of the most remarkable conversations in modern literary history took place on a cool and misty late autumn in 1896, in the small village of Crowthorne in the county of Berkshire.
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One word --and only one word-- was ever actually lost: bondmaid, which appears in Johnson's dictionary, was actually lost by Murray and was found, a stray without a home, long after the fascicle Battentlie - Bozzom had been published. It, and tens of thousands of words that had evolved or appeared during the forty-four years spent assembling the fascicles and their [twelve] parent volumes, appeared in a supplement, which came out in 1933. Four further supplements appeared between 1972 and 1986. In 1989, using the new abilities of the computer, Oxford University Press issued its fully integrated second edition, incorporating all the changes and additions of the supplements in twenty rather more slender volumes. [220]
Defining words properly is a fine and peculiar craft. There are rules—a word (to take a noun as an example) must first be defined according to the class of things to which it belongs (mammal, quadruped), and then differentiated from other members of that class (bovine, female). There must be no words in the definition that are more complicated or less likely to be known than the word being defined. The definition must say what something is, and not what it is not. If there is a range of meanings of any one word—cow having a broad range of meanings, cower having essentially only one—then they must be stated. And all the words in the definition must be found elsewhere in the dictionary—a reader must never happen upon a word in the dictionary that he or she cannot discover elsewhere in it. If the definer contrives to follow all these rules, stirs into the mix an ever-pressing need for concision and elegance—and if he or she is true to the task, a proper definition will probably result.
He would index and collect and collate words and sentences from each of the books, until his prison desk was heavy with the quires of paper, each one containing a master-list of the indexed words from his eclectic, very valuable and much valued little gem of a library.... He had made a key, a Victorian word-Rolodex, a dictionary-within-a-dictionary, and instantly available.
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UK title: The Surgeon of Crowthorne
US title: The Professor and the Madman
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The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds, and organized the sprawling language into 414,825 precise definitions. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story - a story of two remarkable men whose strange twenty-year relationship lies at the core of this historic undertaking. Professor James Murray, an astonishingly learned former schoolmaster and bank clerk, was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon from New Haven, Connecticut, who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors who submitted illustrative quotations of words to be used in the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, handwritten quotations from his home in the small village of Crowthorne, fifty miles from Oxford. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly - and mysteriously - refused. Thus the two men, for two decades, maintained a close relationship only through correspondence. Finally, in 1896, after Minor had sent nearly ten thousand definitions to the dictionary but had still never traveled from his home, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray finally learned the truth about Minor - that, in addition to being a masterful wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane - and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics.

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