The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus
Peter Mark Roget-polymath, eccentric, synonym aficionado-was a complicated man. He was an eminent scholar who absorbed himself in his work, yet he also possessed an allure that endeared him to his mentors and colleagues-not to mention a host of female admirers. But, most notably, Roget made list...more
He lost his father at five. His mother was overprotective and bat-shit crazy. Roget was an emotional wreck who forwent participation in society in favor of observing, listing, and organizing things.
Kendall crafts a highly readable narrative.
“Unlike Girard and his successors, Roget aimed not to explain or prescribe the use of the words. Rather, he felt he just needed to list all...more
I attempted to stick through this book but it got drier and more confusing as I read on, so I gave up.
Sorry Roget, I hope at least you liked the book about your life, and you're not turning over in your grave!
As it was, both authors wrote books about British polymaths who were doctors, made breakthroughs in their medical fields, made contributions to the Encyclopedia Britannica, and were linguistic pioneers. Of the two, however, Thomas Young see...more
I think my biggest beef with The Man Who Made Lists is that it's too scant on the creation of Roget's Thesaurus. What was I supposed to think though, when the book's sub-heading is...more
Well researched, well written, and deeply igniting. Until you get to the second half.
Once you are half-way through this biography it seems to delve into the world of the novel. Research turns to speculation - there is no way that Joshua Kendall can say for certain what Roget was thinking as he looked off of ships. He also seems to be a little too interested in...more
I was interested to learn that Roget was trained as a physician. Unlike modern physicians/doctors of today, a physician back then treated internal diseases and were the most educated and respected of the medical profession. In Roget's time, physicians com...more
Because I'd made this assumption (I mean, it had madness in the title, right?) I started off on the wrong foot. This is much more a biography of Peter Marc Roget. And because Roget published hi...more
I found it fascinating on several levels, though I admit that it may have been because of where I was in my own life when I read it, as I was actively grieving.
So, from the grief aspect: When my husband died I found my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies went into overdrive. I had to find order in everything - and I...more
As much as I liked the piece, there were many issues that took my attention away from the story. Fo...more
The title tells all: rather than a discussion of etymology, The Man Who Made Lists examines Dr. Roget and his creation through a psychological lens. Critics couldn't help but compare the effort to Simon Winchester's acclaimed The Professor and the Madman (2001), about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Incidentally, in the Atlantic, Winchester criticized Roget's Thesaurus for fostering "poor writing" in its indiscriminate cataloging. While even those reviewers who agreed with Wincheste...more
Roget used lists an analysis as a method for girding himself from the difficulties of the world around him. He was Swiss and had a very analyt...more
In the spirit of making lists, here's mine:
1. Roget's mother might have been overbearing, but the author seems to really hate her. That turned me off.
2. Okay, so it's not a scholarly biography, I know, but please don't write Roget's internal monologue. Or do, but then make it a play or film script or something.
I do feel like the author was a little assuming sometimes, e...more