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Hachette Book Group (AU)
This price was set by the publisher.
The Dictionary of Lost Words Kindle Edition
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|Length: 384 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Inspired by a wisp of fact - a single word accidentally omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary - Pip Williams has spun a marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress. This is a novel that brings light not only lost words, but the lost stories of women's lives. It is at once timely and timeless.
In the annals of lexicography, no more imaginative, delightful, charming and clever book has yet been written. And if by writing it Pip Williams has gently rapped my knuckles for wrongly supposing that only white English men led the effort to corral and codify our language, then I happily accept the scolding. Her wonderfully constructed story has helped entirely change my mind.
What a novel of words, their adventure and their capacity to define and, above all, challenge the world. There will not be this year a more original novel published. I just know it -- Thomas Keneally --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B086KR4GKT
- Publisher : Affirm Press (31 March 2020)
- Language : English
- File size : 4365 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 384 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 60 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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I didn't think it would be possible to enjoy (and learn from) a better book on lexicography than Winchester's 'The Surgeon of Crowthorne': I was wrong.
The Dictionary of Lost Words is a stately walk through Victorian England's values, from a woman's point of view, but always with the gentle overlay of the Oxford English Dictionary's lexicography. The facts of the task of compiling the OED were fascinating, but more-so the philosophical questions central to this book - What defines 'validity' in a word? Must it have been written down? Does a tabloid newspaper coining a new word, constitute its having been 'written down'? Is slang acceptable? Is slang only acceptable after it's been in use for a time? Should profanities be included, and if not, why not? The protagonist, Esme has to address these questions, then in a profoundly chauvinistic society, she has to present and argue her case. Her 'lost words' are the oral vocabularies of women. Not a topic many men in Victorian England were interested in.
Pip Williams' portrayal of English as a changing language, and her recognition of its inbuilt sexism is fascinating. As Esme observes; Nearly every (polite) term for a woman (such as Miss, Mrs, maiden, harlot) informs the hearer of the virginity-status of the woman concerned... and none of the male terms do equally. Even the derogatory ones such as 'git' do not allude to a man's virginity status.
Then there are the words for women, which have no male equivalent - 'scold'. Blame encompassed in just one word.
As in real life, nothing happens quickly and with Esme's accidental death, some actions are left to those who come after. This may disappoint those who like all the loose ends of a story tied up before the final page. But these characters, for the most part, are based on real individuals.
Finally this is a love story - typical of the age. Love finally declared... too late, bound by the constraints of the society (which impose on Esme a belief she is not worthy of happiness in marriage), and ended too soon by the horrohs of WWI.
A wonderful book. The best I have read for years.
I don't know who I wish I could have dinner with more.... Pip Williams, or Esme.
I enjoyed the main character Esme who was collecting words that were either discarded by the men in the group or words that women used which were discarded also. She did her research in the markets where the lower classes worked.
There is a lot to say about this book which kept me glued to it however I felt the ending was a bit rushed although neatly tied together.
A delightful read for anyone who loves language and the power of words.
Top reviews from other countries
The characters are wonderful- so warmly described; from Esme, who feels the responsibility for all of the discarded and unwanted words, to Lizzie who is there for Esme at every turn, to Mabel who provided some of the more ‘fruity ‘ words for Esme’s collection. All women who prove that their voices count as much as the next man.
A truly evocative read that will stay with me for a long time.