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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dip and enjoy!, 16 July 2006
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This review is from: Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the English Language (Hardcover)
Henry Hitchings, in his brilliant `Dr Johnson's Dictionary' (see my review), recommends this abridged edition of the Dictionary. It, too, is a treat for all who love words and are interested in the 18th century. It reproduces more than 3,000 entries of the 42,733 in the original First Edition. It includes: the Plan that Johnson originally submitted to the Earl of Chesterfield (15 pages), from which, however, he was to deviate later in several important respects; Johnson's splendid Preface (20 pages); Lynch's own excellent Introduction (21 pages); 19 pages of Lynch's notes on those entries for which he felt a special explanation was necessary; and some very useful appendices. One lists (play by play) all the words in this edition for whose illustrations Johnson quoted plays by Shakespeare; another does the same for other authors (author by author - including the Bible); and a third, subject by subject, of what Lynch calls `piquant terms'. These include nearly three columns of `Inkhorn Terms', which would make for a splendid party game in which particpants would be invited to guess their meaning. (Here is a taster, a selection from from just two letters: macilent, mactation, macilent, madefy, maffle, malvaceous, maritated, meracious, moky, morigerous, multiscious, mundivagant, mundungus, mussitation, mynchen, nimiety, nombles, nosology, nosopoetick, nubble, nummery, nuncupative.) This is all great fun; but there also is a lot of serious pleasure to be gained from dipping into this book for Johnson's definitions and for the examples he has culled from his wide reading. (It is a pity, though, that he did not specify more closely the place where his sources are to be found - partly, no doubt, as Hitchings explained, because Johnson often quoted from memory. For Biblical sources he does usually quote chapter and verse. Sometimes he does the same for Milton, but mostly not. Where his source is named simply `Shakespeare' or `Shak.Tit.And.', we could of course consult a Shakespeare Concordance for the precise place. But where there are no Concordances, a bare reference to `Dryd' or to `Swift' is a little frustrating. Another opportunity, perhaps, for a party game among the learnéd?)
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Location: London United Kingdom

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