The Man Who Made Lists

The Man Who Made Lists

Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus

Book - 2008
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Peter Mark Roget--polymath, eccentric, synonym aficionado--was a complicated man. He was a scholar obsessed with his work, yet he had an allure that endeared him to his contemporaries--not to mention a host of female admirers. But most notably, he made lists. Roget longed for order in his chaotic world. His father's premature death and the mental illness of his mother and sister threatened to plunge him into his own madness. And so, at the age of eight, he started making lists. From the heavenly bodies to animals, vegetables, and minerals, young Roget began his quest to put everything in its place, one word at a time. Roget lived a colorful life, full of unexpected twists and discoveries: he narrowly avoided jail in Napoleon's France, invented the slide rule, and of course, brought life to the book that would become synonymous with synonyms.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2008
ISBN: 9780399154621
Branch Call Number: 413.092 R634K
Characteristics: 297 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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Mar 15, 2014

The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creator of Roget’s Thesaurus. --- by Joshua Kendall. There was a time when there was nary a home that didn’t have, somewhere, along with a King James Bible, an Atlas, perhaps (with the British Empire faithfully rendered in rose), an Encyclopedia Brittanica, a dictionary, and a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus. What’s a word for the word? Look it up in Roget. And yet, his Thesaurus, that product of Victorian England was never the central opus (yes, I knew that word --- I didn’t have to Roget it) In a way, constructing the tome was a way for Peter Roget to cope with the problems of society and, more importantly, of his soul. Often spiritually tortured, he found solace in this métier. Kendall writes a fine biography and he writes it well. The reading is without hindrance and never tedious as a book such as this might easily become. This book might not appeal to all readers but it may appeal to you.

This is a book that is informative in so far as the history of the creator of the thesaurus and it is also informative about the times he lived in and as to why a person might be driven to create such a work. It isn't an easy read but it is worth it.

Oct 23, 2009

This book is great for people who like to think of the right word for the right moment.


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