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Putting more Dictionaries on the bookshelves Print E-mail
Written by Review by Paul Tankard   
Monday, 19 January 2009 21:41

Johnson’s Dictionary: An Anthology, ed. David Crystal.  Penguin Books, London 2005.  xlvi + 650 pp.  RRP $39.95

From being for practical purposes unavailable to most people, Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language is suddenly more available now than it has been for a century or so.  The book’s 250th birthday in 2005 has had something to do with this.  The full-text is available on a number of C.D.s-ROM and online.  David Crystal, who is probably the world’s best-known and most prolific linguistic scholar, has made this Penguin Classics edition, which is the second of two recently-published volumes of selections from the great book.

It is good that this major work of a major writer, and a pioneering work of its kind, is available – albeit in truncated form – to modern readers, as a book.  No conscientious selection from such a work could fail to please; perhaps the best way to review Crystal’s edition is not to retail truisms about the Dictionary itself, but to compare this edition with that of Jack Lynch, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, which came out in 2002.

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The 15th Seminar: Was Dr Johnson a Tourette’s sufferer? Print E-mail
Written by Bryan Reid   
Monday, 19 January 2009 21:36

Dr Simon Bower, a consultant neurologist, drew on his own clinical experience to address the issue of Tourette’s Syndrome, in his paper delivered at the JSA’s 15th Annual Seminar in June 2008 where about forty members and guests attended.

Tourette’s Syndrome has been suggested as an explanation for Johnson’s reported physical quirks and odd behaviour. Simon described the usual manifestations of the syndrome, namely motor tics and obsessive behaviours (of which Johnson had a number).

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The 2007 Seminar Print E-mail
Written by Bryan Reid   
Monday, 27 August 2007 01:37

It was a dark and stormy night, but the lights were shining, hot drinks available, and the fires were taking the edge off a Melbourne winter evening as the JSA assembled for its 14th Annual Seminar on July 6 at the English-Speaking Union.

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Enthusiastic reception for 2007 Fleeman Print E-mail
Written by Bryan Reid   
Monday, 19 January 2009 21:29

The 2007 David Fleeman Memorial Lecture was delivered to an enthusiastic audience by Dr Paul Tankard, the JSA’s Editor, and Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Otago, Dunedin. Otago is now able to boast of two Fleeman lecturers among its numbers (Professor Chris Ackerley being the 2006 lecturer). Paul’s subject, clearly a first survey of an ever-expandable work in progress, was entitled “Reference Point: Samuel Johnson and the Encyclopaedias.

Johnson, of course, was keenly interested in the business of organising knowledge involving what he called ‘that muddling work’, the tasks of searching out and of organising large fields of knowledge which supported the brilliant criticism contained in the Lives of the Poets, or the fundamental research which made possible the  astonishingly creative Dictionary-- both being outstanding examples of the encyclopaedic instincts of Johnson and also of his age (one thinks of Blair, Reynolds, Burney and others).

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The JSA at Pembroke College Print E-mail
Written by Bryan Reid   
Monday, 27 August 2007 01:40

The JSA was very well represented at the recent conference held at Pembroke College, Oxford on June 21-23 when some 50 ardent Johnsonians gathered to consider the topic of “Johnson and the Theatre”. The JSA members present were Barrie and Fay Shepherd and John Byrne.

Over the three days the participants were given a superb insight into 18th century theatre in all its aspects, from the formality of Drury Lane under Garrick to the fringe theatre of Southwark Fair, with its rowdy and riotous behaviour of the audience (who seemed to be as much a part of the spectacle as they were spectators) and the ever present prostitutes and pimps who made the theatre crowds their willing prey.

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