The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Simon Winchester
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. The Minor family came to the United States only a decade after what group of people?

2. When was the project to create the first Oxford English Dictionary commissioned?

3. How did the author describe the attitude of the killer caught for Merrett's death upon the killer's capture?

4. What did Merrett's killer claim about the murder?

5. For what purpose was Murray asked to go to Oxford?

Short Essay Questions

1. In regards to Trench's speech, what did he view each word as having? What must be charted for each word?

2. Why does the author suggest that Minor moved from his initial area of residence in London, St James Square, to Lambeth Marsh?

3. Some critics say that Samuel Johnson put too much of his personality into his work on his dictionary. How would it be possible to avoid this type of criticism?

4. Why might the author have defined the word "protagonist" in such depth?

5. Why does the author take time to note the sheer volume of words and weight of the Oxford English Dictionary? What parallels can be drawn between this and the dictionary's makers?

6. In what ways does the author state the compilation of the Dictionary of the English Language was different from the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary?

7. What is significant about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary's beginnings to have begun on Guy Fawkes Day in England?

8. For what reasons did Minor become the most famous contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary?

9. What reason(s) does the author give for Minor's parents sending him to the US to live with his uncle?

10. What seemed uncanny about the killer's cool, calm demeanor?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The title of the book and its chapter titles are somewhat surprising considering that this is a non-fiction book about the making of a famous dictionary. Why are the titles surprising? Discuss what effects the author may have aimed for in choosing these titles.

Essay Topic 2

How does the author show that The Oxford English Dictionary was a completely different undertaking than any of the dictionaries that had come before it? Illustrate your answer with examples from the text.

Essay Topic 3

What do you think The Oxford English Dictionary represents to the author? Illustrate your answer with examples from the text.

(see the answer keys)

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