E's Reviews > The Meaning Of Everything

The Meaning Of Everything by Simon Winchester
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's review
May 02, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: language-linguistics
Read from May 02 to 04, 2012

I'm disturbed by the current trend of history authors focusing more on the biographies of the inviduals involved in a project rather than the ideas behind it. Have we as readers convinced them we are that voyeuristic? Is the People magazine approach to intellectual history the only thing that sells these days? Or do hardcore fans simply become so enamored of the figures who made it all possible that they cannot resist the urge to delve into the personal? This would be understandable if an author like Winchester decided instead to write a complete biography with all the depth and attention to character nuance that entails. But he didn't. The tantalizing title lured me with notions of lexis and alphabet amory, but the book generally restricted those ideas to the first chapter and epilogue. If the company I work for or any project I've helped bring to fruition were ever reason for a researcher to spit out juicy tidbits about my personal life and those of my colleagues, I would hardly consider it an honor.

See my review of Bill Bryson's At Home or Michael Davis's Street Gang for more examples of my sputtering over how frustrating this trend is. See Reading the OED and Sleeping with the Dictionary for the sort of word orgies I'm after.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Surely this must be a re-hash of The Surgeon of Crowthorne?

message 2: by E (new) - rated it 2 stars

E Karen wrote: "Surely this must be a re-hash of The Surgeon of Crowthorne?"


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