Monday, 2 May 2011

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations is the little brother to the better-known Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations is a small volume, but still found to be stuffed full of useful quotations from the great, the good, the witty, the clever and some ordinary folk who said at least one thing in their life that was memorable enough for someone to write down or record in some way and for other people to say: "Gosh, I wish I had said that!"

The book is 476 pages in length and, although small, is, at 476 pages, quite a well-padded little volume. It is relatively easy to hold, yet I can't help wonder if it could have been just a few centimetres larger? Still, that's a minor quibble and a point that does not, ultimately, detract from the over all enjoyment and usability of this small volume.

The forwards to the first and fourth editions are included and in them the editor Susan Ratcliffe goes some way to explain the purpose of the book.

There is then a list of subjects that the book covers literally from A to Z. (Did you see what I did, there? a rather pointless and only marginally funny pun. Sorry!) From Ability right through to Youth. So in truth, it is not, exactly from A to Z.

Next comes the quotations, followed by a highly useful index of those people who are quoted within the tightly packed work.

There are quotes you will probably be familiar with, quotes which, now you know them, you will remember for the rest of your life and quotes which will serve a purpose in a wedding speech, a magazine article, a college essay or the like.

And for those of us who like to trawl through books like The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, there are nuggets of pure gold and some that, although being nuggets of pure gold, are poignant and somewhat ironic.

For example in the section The Body artist, art lecturer and musician Ian Drury is quoted as saying:
"The leg, a source of much delight,
which carries weight and governs height,"

had problems with his legs due to suffering polio as a child. He sometimes had to take to the stage wearing leg irons in order to support his limb when it was particularly bad. (A minor point is that Susan Ratcliffe lists Drury as a British rock singer. He was, of course, much more than that!)

Also, we find that the Eton Boating Song lyrics were written by English poet William Cory.
There's a poem about entrails by poet Connie Bensley and you can find the source of the saying about 'death and taxes.'

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations is a fantastic little book and will make an ideal gift for the student, the author, journalists or anyone who uses words in their day to day life. Well, just about anyone, I suppose.

The published price is £9.99 ($15.95 USA) but will be available for much less on Amazon.
The ISBN is 978-0-19-954330-4.

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