The Meaning of Everything

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Simon Winchester

Narrated By: Simon Winchester

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Date: October 2003

Duration: 7 hours 20 minutes

Summary:

From the bestselling author of
The Professor and the Madman,
The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa

Writing with marvelous brio, Simon Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language and pays homage to the great dictionary makers from Samuel Johnson to Noah Webster before turning his unmatched talent for storytelling to the making of the most venerable of dictionaries – The Oxford English Dictionary. Here the listener is presented with lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but sickly first editor Herbert Coleridge, the colorful, wildly eccentric Frederick Furnivall, and the incomparable James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent half a century as editor bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the minutiae of dictionary making, brings us to visit the unseemly corrugated iron shed that Murray grandly dubbed The Scriptorium, and introduces some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to the murderous W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption.

The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument erected to a living language.

Genres:

  • Anonymous

    Simon Winchester's, THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING, is entertaining as well as scholarly. Winchester reads it beautifully, adding to the charm. If you love words and their origins, you will love listening to this book!

  • Paul Crabtree

    Unexpectedly fascinating, this is a title I was surprised to enjoy so thoroughly. Perceptively recounted, and written and spoken with great affection, I found the whole thing enthralling. I would never have guessed such a potentially dry subject could be so interesting.

  • Don Orlando

    This book draws you in to what promises to be an exciting tale. The 60-year effort to produce the best dictionary the English language has ever known should have lots of wonderful stories and introduce you to some memorable characters. And it does---right up until the late 1880's. What happened to the culminating work from that time to 1928 when the first edition appears? The author offers no clue. The book ends so abruptly I found myself searching for a possible missing disk. There wasn't one. What a great disappointment!

  • Andre Weinstock

    One would expect that there could be nothing duller than the history of the compilation of a dictionary. However, Simon Winchester, with his impeccable command of the English language and perfect Oxfordian accent, provides an amazingly interesting and fascinating tale. I listened to each disk twice to catch all the details.

  • Anonymous

    This book was very long and some what repetitive. It gave a full accounting as far as I know.

  • Linda Hart (a Uni-trained Historian)

    Wonderful! Scores of anecdotes as well as the ins-and-outs of how the greatest dictionary - the OED - came to be . . . delightfully erudite (many great, seldom-used English words . . 'twould be easily understood by the less educated via rich contextual clues) . . . and fun, too! Simon Winchester's smooth-as-satin baritone English accent is sublime, too (shivers me timbers ;) In short, this unabridged gem kept me vastly entertained while commuting. 5 of 5 stars.

  • Brad Grissom

    This book is just dying to be abridged. But as with most books, if you stick with it, you do end up learning some interesting info.