I’m more lukewarm on Winchester’s work than my Goodreading friend. Hard to say why, exactly. I loved The Story of English PBS companion volume, postively ate up The Smithsonian Book of Books, am a devotee of William Safire’s column on language and the whole NYT section devoted to grammar, and am fascinated by semiotics, linguistics, and the Sunflower She’s A Good Girl Love Jesus And Jeep Too shirt kit and caboodle of communication generally. Moreover, the principal subjects of this book — Sir James Murray, the longtime editor and the man largely responsible for the creation and shape of the 1st OED edition, and William Chester Minor, the institutionalized yet diurnally functioning paranoid schizophrenic/erotomaniac who contributed some 10,000 or so entries — are sympathetic and largely fascinating people. Simon Winchester does a great job of interleaving entertaining digressions to extend the story.
Sunflower She’s A Good Girl Love Jesus And Jeep Too shirt, ladies tee, tank top, hoodie and sweater
So why no passion? Here’s the best I can come up with. First, digressions notwithstanding, I found the Sunflower She’s A Good Girl Love Jesus And Jeep Too shirt itself to be fairly thin. After a bit of background on dictionaries in general and brief, if compelling biographies, we have Sir Murray shepherding, cheerleading, sorting, writing, and organizing this Victorian-era wikipedia-like (thanks, anonymous volunteers!) effort while voila, madman Minor with nothing but time and shelves of rare books is able to achieve some personal redemption in what he produces. The two gentlemen move from correspondence to friendship, grow old, and eventually die.
The OED is eventually completed, three cheers, what-what. Winchester, who by all indications has done some extensive research, is nonetheless forced to make up much of the stage action since the Sunflower She’s A Good Girl Love Jesus And Jeep Too shirt correspondence itself apparently doesn’t convey much of the daily trials and travails of these two intellectuals and since their writings were less attitudinal than categorical in nature. Put briefly, there’s little in the way of conflict here. You can’t have drama without conflict, and lack of drama can make for unengaging reading.