Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Professor and The Madman


Today's post is on The Professor and The Madman by Simon Winchester. It is 242 pages long including notes and is published by Harper Perennial. The cover is a picture of Dr. W. C. Minor. The intended reader is someone interested in history, language arts, and how things are made. There is no language, no sex, and no violence in this book. The story is told from a third person voice with first person letters, journals, and newspaper articles for added depth. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- The Professor and The Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary- and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857 was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than then thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Review- An interesting and tragic tale about one man's madness and how it served the world. Dr. Minor is really very tragic. Winchester does good work making him pitiable. The research that Winchester does in both men, gives the reader a deeper understanding about the world they lived in. Winchester traces both men from childhood all way to their deaths. He gives the reader insight into why Murray wanted to work on the OED and into the very frightening world that Minor lived in. The writing is great, easy to understand, and full of compassion for Minor. The notes are just notes. nothing great but useful if you want to use them. This book is a fast read, so if you are looking for something quick and engaging try this one.

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.