Friday, 30 October 2015

OED (October)

The enduring head of a former English Department, Intercultural Communications or something, wrote a newspaper review of one of those OED histories. His trained anti-imperial post-colonial mind quickly identified the OED as imperial and colonialist. I will never, he declared, read it the same way again. Given his vehemence, why bother? The greatest poet (arguably, always) at the End of Empire, safe in NYC, wore out his OED and thought to purchase a new set. His face was wrinkled with innumerable profound cross-references. On his third cigarette after breakfast he gleefully scanned Sir James Murray’s columns: Octavo, Octet, Octillion, October…

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