I think about the process of writing a book and it seems like an enormous task. We have books on how to write books. We have writing groups where your peers can help you. It isn’t easy.
Then I think about dictionaries and it becomes almost incomprehensible. The Professor and the Madman is a sneak peek into the creation of the English Oxford Dictionary and it will blow you away. With an impressive cast to say the least, it is worth a watch.
Entertaining and educative
Professor James Murray is an autodidact but his learning is so impressive that Oxford University allows him into their elitist circle. He will be in charge of compiling every single word of the English language for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.
To help him in this humongous task, he has the idea to ask the public for their input. They will write and date quotes for him. One source in particular stands out above the rest. It is a man that will send him over 10,000 entries, a patient at Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Dr William Minor has been diagnosed insane after having killed a man on the street. His story is so incredible you have to watch it to believe it.
Sometimes when we push away, that is when we most need to be resisted.
In the Professor and the Madman Sean Penn is something else entirely. He is such a great actor. He carries the movie. Of course, along with him, there is an incredible cast. Mel Gibson (even though his life outside the screen has tainted my liking of him), Natali Dormer of Game of Thrones, Jennifer Ehle and Ion Gruffudd to name only a few make this a movie not to be missed. They all have great chemistry, especially Penn and Gibson. It is a pleasure to watch.
Apart from the celebrities of course, I enjoyed it because the story is fascinating. The Oxford English Dictionary is the most famous. Can you imagine what an herculean task that would have been?
The professor and the Madman is based on the 1998 book The Surgeon of Crowthorne: a tale of murder, madness and the Oxford English dictionary by Simon Winchester and we have a copy at the library so don’t hesitate to borrow it. I can assure you, it is epic.
When I read, nobody’s after me. When I read, I’m the one who’s chasing.
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