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The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Paperback – 5 Jul 2005

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Review

"I found "The Professor and the Madman both enthralling and moving, in its brilliant reconstruction of a most improbable event: the major contributions made to the great Oxford English Dictionary by a deeply delusional, incarcerated "madman, " and the development of a true friendship between him and the editor of the OED. One sees here the redemptive potential of work and love in even the most deeply, "hopelessly, " psychotic."-- Oliver Sacks, M.D."Remarkably readable, this chronicle of lexicography roams from the great dictionary itself to hidden nooks in the human psyche that sometimes house the motives for murder, the sources for sanity, and the blueprint for creativity."-- "Kirkus Reviews" (starred)"An extraordinary tale, and Simon Winchester could not have told it better. . . . [He] has written a splendid book."-- "The Economist""Madness, violence, arcane obsessions, weird learning, ghastly comedy, all set out in an atmosphere of po-aced, high neo-Gothic. The geographical span is wide, from Dickensian London to Florida's Pensacola Bay, from the beaches at Trincomalee to the Civil War battlefields of the United States. . . . It is a wonderful story."-- John Banville, "Literary Review""This is almost my favorite kind of book: the work of social and intellectual history which through the oblique treatment of major developments manages to throw unusual light on humankind and its doings. . . . Simon Winchester's effortlessly clear, spare prose is the perfect vehicle for the tale . . . absolutely riveting."-- Will Self, "The Times" (London)"It's a story for readers who know the joy of words and can appreciate side trips through the history of dictionaries and marvel at the idea that whenShakespeare wrote, there we no dictionaries to consult.... Winchester, a British Journalist who's written 12 other books, combines a reporter's eye for detail with a historian's sense of scale. His writing is droll and eloquent"--Bob Minzesheimer, "USA Today"Winchester's history of the OED is brisk and entertaining"--Mark Rozzo, "Washington Post Book World""The Professor and the Madman...is the linguistic detective story of the decade.... Winchester does a superb job of historical research that should entice readers even more interested in deeds than words."--William Safire, "New York Times Magazine"elegant and scrupulous"--David Walton, "New York Times Book Review"Winchester has written a powerful account of the shifting foundations on which meaning is built, and the impoverishment of a language that could not describe or give peace to one of its makers."-- Lithe Sebesta, "New York Post"Mr. Winchester deftly weaves...a narrative full of suspense, pathos and humor.... In this elegant book the writer has created a vivid parable, in the spirit of Nabokov and Borges. There is much truth to be drawn from it, about Victorian pride, the relation between language and the world, and the fine line between sanity and madness."--Daniel Mark Epstein, "Wall Street Journal "a fascinating, spicy, learned tale"-- Richard Bernstein, "New York Times"Simon Winchester, in his splendid, oddball slice of history "The Professor and the Madman, has come up with an irresistible hook... [an] utterly fascinating account of how a combination of scholarship and nationalism begat what would become the "Oxford English Dictionary... If the initial sections of [Winchester's] tale have the appeal of a gaslight Victorianthriller, Winchester doesn't leave it at that. He's a superb historian because he's a superb storyteller.... The strange richness of it all is enhanced by the flawless clarity of Winchester's prose. Winchester, investigating an odd bit of background trivia about the making of one of the world's great books, has the courage of his own curiosity. The elegant curio he has created is as enthralling as a good story can be and as informative as any history aspires to be."--Charles Taylor, "Salon "One of the great strengths of this book is historical mise-en-scene, particularly for nineteenth-century America and England...[a] marvelous work of historical and philogical imagination."-- Linda Bridges, "National Review

About the Author

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Map That Changed the World, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (5 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060839783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060839789
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #84,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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4.0 out of 5 starsThoroughly Detailed
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5.0 out of 5 starsA beautiful book that follows the lives of two men
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5.0 out of 5 starsYou will learn a lot by reading Winchester's books
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