Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary

Caught in the Web of Words James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary This unique and celebrated biography describes how a largely self educated boy from a small village in Scotland entered the world of scholarship became the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionar

  • Title: Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary
  • Author: K.M. Elisabeth Murray
  • ISBN: 9780300089196
  • Page: 290
  • Format: Paperback
  • This unique and celebrated biography describes how a largely self educated boy from a small village in Scotland entered the world of scholarship became the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, a lexicographer greater by far than Dr Johnson It also provides an absorbing account of how the dictionary was written, the personalities of the people workingThis unique and celebrated biography describes how a largely self educated boy from a small village in Scotland entered the world of scholarship became the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, a lexicographer greater by far than Dr Johnson It also provides an absorbing account of how the dictionary was written, the personalities of the people working on it the endless difficulties which nearly led to the whole enterprise being abandoned.

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      Published :2019-03-18T11:50:15+00:00

    One Reply to “Caught in the Web of Words: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary”

    1. If you love the Oxford English Dictionary as much as I do (hello, fellow geek!), then you will love this biography of its Chief Editor.

    2. James Murray is a hero of mine, and his granddaughter tells his story eloquently. The other reviewers of this book have many excellent comments, but I would add that this book helps readers understand that dictionaries are living, breathing things. They are not static; not dry things that exist to look good on a shelf. Battles are waged (well, quiet battles) among lexicographers to determine which words are included and how the words should be described. The book also conveys why the OED is such [...]

    3. This biography of the first general editor of what became the Oxford English Dictionary, James Augustus Henry Murray (1837–1915), was written by his grand-daughter who, admittedly, has but two memories of her illustrious ancester. The story is dry-as-dust. There is no scandal here, no salacious tidbits, just the tale of a life substantially dominated by and publicly identified with the project of producing an historical dictionary of the English language, the world's greatest venture of its ki [...]

    4. A biography of the first Editor of the OED that covers Murray's wildly diverse interests as well as the immense difficulties he overcame to create the Dictionary. Written by his granddaughter with a Victorian discretion that has no use for Freudian speculation, the biography concentrates on Murray's public life and work, leavened with a sprinkling of private household anecdote. In essence, it is a paean to amateur scholarship (all of Murray's university degrees were honorary), that warms the hea [...]

    5. I read this in 1987, so my memories of it are vaguer than I would like; I was studying for my MLS at the time, so the subject matter caught my attention.I got my copy of The Oxford English Dictionary, Compact Edition (with magnifying glass included) back in the mid 1970s, when I was in High School; I think it was a Book of the Month Club premium for joining, and was why I joined, to obtain it. I still have it, I still use it. Learning about its creation just makes it that much more valuable to m [...]

    6. The story of James Murray, editor (and creator) of the Oxford English Dictionary. Having only seen the concise version of this seven-volume masterwork, I wasn't aware of the magnitude of the undertaking. A humble man with little formal education, Murray has a vision that even he didn't fully grasp at first. His insistence on maintaining high standards for the work led to a project that stretched over 50 years. On the other hand, if he hadn't done so, it would have been done so poorly, if at all, [...]

    7. I'm a huge fan of the Oxford English Dictionary, and this book has been on my to read pile for years. This is an exhaustively researched biography of James Murray. Exhaustively, tediously, exhaustingly researched. The author is the granddaughter of James Murray and no doubt family members were fascinated by all those little details about his childhood and the childhoods of his children and every little time he felt slighted and every single friend who defended him and the kind of tricycle he rod [...]

    8. Seems amazing to me that more people don't know who James Murray was. And I have even studied dialectology at the graduate level and was never alerted to the fact that Murray was probably the most significant philologist of English of the 19th century. It even seems to me--some very photo-finish timelines might be necessary here--that he independently discovered Grimm's Law while tracing the separate origins of Scots and English English to Anglo-Saxon. What he did at the OED might count, by many [...]

    9. Outstanding work. A really tough read for me, but well worth the effort if you are interested in the greatest dictionary of all time. Murray was a driven (thankfully) and uncompromising (thankfully) man managed to get published a work that would never be profitable (and it only took 40 years to get it done). I need some lighter reading now.

    10. This book is really biographical. If that's what you're looking for it's a thorough history of James A.H. Murray's life. If you care more about the dictionary's inception read The Professor and the Madman.

    11. Finally! This book is not an easy read. The story itself is interesting but I didn't enjoy the writer's style. The only reason I kept going was because the subject of compiling and editing the Oxford dictionary was fascinating to me. 3 stars.

    12. Wonderful biography, by his granddaughter, of the most important man in creating the Oxford English Dictionary. James Murray had an astounding general knowledge & also amazing energy. He started from a working class background in Scotland. This book was first published 1977; have read before.

    13. okay, I got bored and didn't finish it. (more and more the story of my reading these days.) The first part about James Murray as a precocious child who was interested in all kinds of learning was inspiring.

    14. Wonderful. She does a great job of explaining how the dictionary process worked and is even-handed in dealing with all the battles.

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