Sunday, October 09, 2005

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary
Johnson's Dictionary was quite unlike most of the dictionaries we use now. The entries in modern dictionaries are brief, often one line summaries of the meaning of a word, whereas Johnson was anxious to explore the variety of meaning, and frequently provided detailed quotations from literature to demonstrate the subtle differences in use. The new edition of the US literary mag Bookforum (Oct/Nov 2005) has just been published - and it includes a fascinating asessment of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary 250 years after it was first published. Written by Jesse Sheidlower the article forms part of the free content on the Bookforum website.
There is a small online exhibition about the Dictionary on the University of Birmingham website: