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A Dodo at Oxford: The Unreliable Account of a Student and his Pet Dodo Hardcover – 16 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxgarth Press; 1st edition (16 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953443825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953443826
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A Dodo at Oxford is a masterpiece ... a real Oxford book, in every sense, full of wit and fantasy, and properly anchored in a very real seventeenth-century world. --Philip Pullman

A Dodo at Oxford is a classic in the making. From the city that brought us the Cheshire Cat and the Mock Turtle comes a new mythic beast, the Oxford Student's indefatigable Dodo. Books of such wit, charm and scholarship are as rare as the eponymous beast at its centre. Savour it slowly, page by glorious page, and then buy it in truckloads for every booklover on your Christmas list. --John Mitchinson, co-author of The QI Book of General Ignorance

A Dodo at Oxford by Philip Atkins and Michael Johnson faultlessly links history with humour in a facsimile account of a dodo living in Oxford in the 17th century. It's a triumph of small press publishing and deserves to be the stocking filler of choice for all book lovers. --Patrick Neale, Bookseller's Choice: Christmas 2010 Round-up, The Bookseller, 10 September 2010

the editors have presented it [the diary] with scholarly care, charm and a very dry wit --Financial Times, Tim Souster, 18 September 2010

It threatens to be the most explosive `lost diary' find since the supposed discovery of the Hitler diaries were announced to a frenzy of worldwide interest 27 years ago. --The Oxford Times, full page feature by Reg Little, 19 August 2010

From the Inside Flap

In 2008 a diary was discovered amongst some books donated to a charity bookshop in Oxford. It was a most remarkable book, supposedly written over three hundred years ago by a student, describing his life and unusual pet, a dodo.

Everyone knows the dodo, a comic and ungainly bird, the sad symbol of extinction. But what was a living dodo really like? The author of the diary was a student of science and he recorded his pet's every move, as well as the reactions of his friends and acquaintances. He had some idea of the bird's rarity, but not that his pet might have been the last dodo to have walked upon the earth.

Doubts have been cast over the authenticity of the diary, so every page has been photographed and reprinted to enable readers to judge for themselves. As the publisher cannot guarantee that it is genuine, they have reluctantly placed the diary within the 'Historical Fiction' book subject category, until more information is known.

The editors, Philip Atkins and Michael Johnson, have included notes on the diary entries, on such topics as astrology, book production, doll's houses, and gout. Many items were found stuffed between the diary pages, including a bookmark, cigarette cards, and a 1973 fishmonger's receipt, and these are all illustrated.

As well as providing a portrait of the famous bird and glimpses of seventeenth-century Oxford, this is the history of a book: how it was printed, made, unmade, torn, stained, scribbled over, and forgotten. Now by strange good fortune both book and bird have come back to us, large as life.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janet on 31 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
What an odd book. I picked it up because I was intrigued to know what it was; I wasn't much wiser by the end, but I enjoyed the journey. It refuses to admit that it is a work of fiction, but invites you to laugh with it not at it, and the margin notes are genuinely informative on a diverse range of topics from 17th century printing techniques to electricity pylons to spiders, and appear to be true as far as I can tell (it was a little frustrating that by not admitting that any of the work is fiction it loses the opportunity to tell you how much is actually fact.) Nevertheless I got quite caught up in the 17th century story (tantalisingly with neither beginning nor end), enjoyed working out what the prophetic dreams were referring to, and grew quite fond of the terribly earnest writer of the margin notes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Leaver on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Good book!
its not set up in the usual manner of a book but is one of the best reads ive had this year and is so originall no other book like it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Flowers on 9 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
A wonderfully created book. The blurb and introductory chapters drew me in, and as the story evolves I became more and more fascinated with this remarkable story of a Dodo in eighteenth century Oxford. The dodo and his narratory are not what they initally seem at the start of the book - but kept me fascinated and enchanted throughout. A very well made book that was a constant pleasure to read from start to finish. What a shame the original has now sadly been lost - we can only wonder what else it may have revealed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, I've always had a soft spot for the poor, departed Dodo & knew there were some remains at Oxford University, so I wondered whether this would be the story behind those. Could a diary detailing events in the life of a Dodo transported from Mauritius eventually to Oxford have survived from the mid 17th Century? It does say "The Unreliable account" but there is a supposedly authenticated account of one of these birds kept by someone ? in London, so you'll just have to read it yourself to decide. It is well written & is embellished throughout with references to locations & people in the Oxford of that time. There is a twist right at the end but my lips are sealed - read for yourself!
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By iro tytt on 3 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is very enjoyable to read and does exactly what it says on the cover, the notes in the margin are very informative and I imagine correct. Living just outside Oxford I can vouch for the places mentioned. However the story of the student looking after what is possibly the last remaining Dodo stretches the bounds of credibility. The items that occur in supposed dreams are too cleverly interwoven into the story to be anything like true (I dreamed of two yellow lines on the road). The authors are very imaginitive people and were indeed fortunate to find the diary in the bookshop, or did they?
Overall an interesting and humorous read once you get used to the long 's' I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys humorous fiction
Iro Tytt
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