Defining the World
The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary
Recalling the story of the first great lexicon of English, the author reveals how Samuel Johnson arduously assembled his eighteenth-century dictionary--a task that ultimately helped make English into a major European language.
Johnson imagined that he could complete the job in three years. But the complexity of English meant that his estimate was wildly inadequate. Only after he had expended nearly a decade of his prime on the task did the dictionary finally appear - magisterial yet quirky, dogmatic but generous of spirit, and steeped in the richness of English literature. It would come to be seen as the most important British cultural monument of the eighteenth century, and its influence fanned out across Europe and throughout Britain's colonies - including, crucially, America.
Brilliantly entertaining and enlightening, Defining the World is the story of Johnson's heroic endeavor, 250 years after the first publication of the Dictionary. In alphabetically sequenced chapters, Henry Hitchings describes Johnson's adventure - his ambition and vision, his moments of despair, the mistakes he made along the way, and his ultimate triumph.
Recalling the story of the first great lexicon of English, the author reveals how Samuel Johnson arduously assembled his famous eighteenth century dictionary--a task that took longer than expected but ultimately helped make English into a major European language.
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