2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A truly wonderful book!,
This review is from: The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary (Hardcover)
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It seems strange that a book about a dictionary could be so fascinating, but it really is. First, there is the incredible amount of painstaking work that went into creating the dictionary (it took 70 years to finish, and hardly anyone was alive to see it the whole way through!) Then there were the colourful characters who contributed (the murderer William Chester Minor and the hermit Fitzedward Hall, among others). But the really wonderful part of this book, is the "re-discovery" by the reader of the English language. Simon Winchester presents us with a basic history of the English language and gives us many examples of words, their origins, their first usages and the tension and excitement of deciding which words will ultimately make it into the finished product. At the same time, we feel the drama as the characters work through the tremendous amount of information provided to them (and feel the agony when, after 20 years and James Murray takes over, it is discovered that much has been destroyed and they will almost have to start all over again!). And of course we rejoice as each volume is released. It is a race to see how far Murray can get before his time in this world is through and sad he never sees the final culmination of his life's work.
Simon Winchester is by far one of my favorite authors becuase, as a great writer should be able to do, he can turn the most mundate topics into narrative masterpieces. He has done this so many times before and he has certainly done it again with this book. I have already read it twice. It is a truly absorbing read and five stars is not enough!