Whanganui Midweek - 2021-07-21


Sheer magic

Local Classifieds

The Dictionary Of Lost Words Author: Pip Williams Reviewer: Albert Sword I like to listen to music. My tastes are eclectic, but I have an especial favourite, Chamber Music. I never tire of several classical musicians in tight array upon a bare stage, unconducted, relying upon their own total understanding of the music and the composer, and of each other in their collective interpretation of a chamber work. To my mind, sheer magic. I can hear the same piece again and again, and with each hearing, my smile gets broader. Occasionally I read a book which impresses me in the same way, both well-ordered and compelling, and one which draws me in from the first sentence. One such: The Dictionary of Lost Words. The theme and composition are nigh perfect. Author Pip Williams’ wonderful novel is about the editing of the Oxford English Dictionary, from its earliest days in the 1880s. She weaves a delightful, almost docudrama tale around the editing and the true-life characters. Williams constructs her novel around the truthful narrative of the real people who edited and printed, or had printed, one of the most important books in the canon of English literature. But, make no mistake, this is no docu-drama, this IS a novel, which takes into account the momentous happenings from 1887 to contemporary times. Williams is a masterful writer and linguist. I was completely wrapped up within her masterful, yet simple use of the language, and of the struggle to maintain the integrity of the OED in spite of the editors refusing some words, for their own selfish or misunderstood reasons. Indeed, sometimes for reasons of misogyny. Hence the Lost Words. I found the novel un-put-down-able, a beautiful read and ultimately, an important book. Sheer magic, and heartily recommended.


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