Defining the World

The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary
Hitchings, Henry, 1974- (Book - 2005)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Defining the World

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Baker & Taylor
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.

McMillan Palgrave
By the early eighteenth century, France and Italy had impressive lexicons, but there was no authoritative dictionary of English. Sensing the deficit, and impelled by a mixture of national pride and commercial expedience, the prodigious polymath Samuel Johnson embraced the task, turning over the garret of his London home to the creation of his own giant dictionary.

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.

& Taylor

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.

Authors: Hitchings, Henry, 1974-
Statement of Responsibility: Henry Hitchings
Title: Defining the world
the extraordinary story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2005
Characteristics: viii, 292 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Notes: "Originally published in 2005 by John Murray (Publishers) ... as Dr. Johnson's Dictionary: the extraordinary story of the book that defined the world"--T.p. verso
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Headings: English language 18th century Lexicography Encyclopedias and dictionaries History and criticism English language Lexicography History 18th century Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784. Dictionary of the English language
Topical Term: English language
Encyclopedias and dictionaries
English language
LCCN: 2005042661
ISBN: 0374113025
Branch Call Number: 423 H
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Hitchings, Henry, 1974-
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