Tag Archives: Oxford English Dictionary

#bookaday (5): Doesn’t Belong to Me

A book that doesn’t belong to me?  This one is easy: the full Oxford English Dictionary, in twenty volumes (1989), or in its wonderful electronic form.  My main disappointment in writing this post has been to discover that Anthony Burgess’s hilariously fruity remark about the OED — ‘I have taken this book like a mistress to bed (a weighty one but handleable)’  — referred not to the twenty-volume second edition, but to the fourth and final supplement (1986, covering Se-Z) to the previous edition.  The image of Burgess in bed with twenty volumes is just that little bit better than him paying amorous attention to the language from ‘se’ to ‘zymosan’. In my case, even if I could have afforded to buy all twenty volumes, I’d have had to take them to bed because there’s no space left on the bookshelves.


The Twenty-Volume OED


Anthony Burgess and his progeny

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