Mobileread
MobileRead Discussion: Professor and the Mad Man by Winchestor Simon (spoilers)
#1  pilotbob 03-21-2009, 11:25 PM
This thread is for the discussion of the March 2009 Mobileread eBook Club selection The Professor and the Madman.

All are welcome to join of course.

BOb
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#2  Tattncat 03-22-2009, 10:38 AM
I really enjoyed it, something I hadn't expected. I found it both informative and very interesting.
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#3  Ea 03-22-2009, 01:51 PM
I did't know anyhting about the OED beforehand - apart from the name - and it was really interesting to learn about its history - as well as historical context. I know a bit more about British Victorian times, but this was a new angle.

One thing I did not care so much for, was the mix of facts and fiction. I know hard facts can need a little dressing up to become palatable, but in this case I caught myself early on, thinking the book was fiction, and then wondering why it could get chosen when it was decided the March book club book should be non-fiction. I had a small moment then.
I generally don't like mixing this much fiction into the facts - the lines are too blurred for my taste. It's like historical programmes on TV - they like to dress things up, but it very often feels a bit 'off' to me.

All in all it was good. I felt caught up in the story and looked forward to getting back to the book, though it didn't excite me to the point where I would stay up late just to read
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#4  pilotbob 03-22-2009, 01:58 PM
Quote Ea
One thing I did not care so much for, was the mix of facts and fiction.
OK, maybe I totally missed it, but what part was fiction?

BOb
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#5  Ea 03-22-2009, 02:05 PM
Quote pilotbob
OK, maybe I totally missed it, but what part was fiction?

BOb
How to explain... I was thinking of the way it's told. It "reads" like fiction. I mean, I know it's based in real events, and it's quite possible to learn about a great many details, but there's description and dialogue that would - at best - have been extra-polated from letters or diary notes. I'm not saying he's making things up, but a lot of it quite close to being historical fiction that is based in real events.
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#6  pilotbob 03-22-2009, 02:05 PM
I read this book expecting more... based on the glowing reviews a few others here have given it.

This was, as the author states, and interesting and sad story. I didn't know about the OED and the fact that it contained quotations on usage of each word. How they went about doing this what interesting also. Was this perhaps the first "open source" project ever done? Actually, I also didn't understand why the Oxford press was able to "profit" from so many volunteers works.

I also agree that this was a sad story. But, I have to disagree somewhat with the author about Merritt (was that the name), the guy that Minor killed which caused him to be incarcerated was that important of a figure. Yes, it was a series of events that led to other things, but I'm not sure that really matters. If it weren't him it might have been someone else.

The book did give me a sense of how easy it is to take things for granted. Many of the comforts we have today are only their because of the sacrifice and hard work of one or many. To be able to devote so much time to one project is just unheard of these days. Especially in my current occupation as a software developer. Most people in this industry feel if you have been in a job for a few years you are VERY experienced and senior. To me, having been doing the same thing at the same job for 14 years I find that laughable.

I would rate this 3 of 5 stars I think.

BOb
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#7  Ea 03-22-2009, 02:08 PM
I agree with 3 out of 5. It was better than middling, but not all that exciting.
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#8  pilotbob 03-22-2009, 02:10 PM
Quote Ea
I'm not saying he's making things up, but a lot of it quite close to being historical fiction that is based in real events.
Is "sensationalized" what you are going for?

BOb
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#9  Ea 03-22-2009, 02:14 PM
I would normally connect that word with something more lurid or 'popular', but perhaps it's just me not knowing English well enough
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#10  pilotbob 03-22-2009, 02:16 PM
Quote Ea
I would normally connect that word with something more lurid or 'popular', but perhaps it's just me not knowing English well enough
The def I have is:

present information about (something) in a way that provokes public interest and excitement, at the expense of accuracy

Which is what it sounds like you are saying. But, it may not be what you mean.

BOb
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