I learnt some interesting facts this week in regards to the Dictionary of the English Language (I must have had one of those hours of free-surfing where one digs up all sorts of useless trivia). As many will be aware (or not), the first one was devised by writer and essayist Samuel Johnson in 1755. According to the repository of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, during his work on it, the erudite Mr Johnson developed facial tics and odd gestures, posthumously diagnosed as Tourette’s syndrome.
A later effort to re-write the English Dictionary over a century later in more modern language was compiled by a Scottish Grammar teacher called James Murray. Murray used a number of contributors, the most prolific of which was William Chester Minor who did so from his cell in Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane after being convicted of murder.
What this says about people who dedicate themselves to the minutiae of the English language remains unclear.
Also this week, some of the newspaper reviewers have been casting their opinions across the pond in consideration of the Great American Novel, or GAN, as it is now popularly called (got to love those acronyms). Strange how these things go across the board isn’t it? For me, my favourite GAN will always be ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the merits of which were not spoilt by being forced on us as a compulsory read in school, which says a lot really. This raises an interesting point, in that it is widely held that the purpose of the GAN, so they say, is to uphold and embody the American dream and values, yet most of them highlight the inequalities and faults in the fabric of American culture, so seem to contradict this. Any views out there? Any one else think of a GAN they may have read and care to air their opinion of it? Send me your ideas.
This brings me to Maccwriters’ own summer reading challenge. This is for those who will miss their regular dose of literary hopefulness and banter in our weekly gatherings. After 31st July, the Maccwriters will take their Summer break until September 4th. On the last meeting, it was proposed we bring in some books of our choice to swap, read and review during the break. The original proposal was to compile a Richard and Judy style list for this, but obviously the above solution is kinder on the pocket!
The Maccwriters Group meets on Thursdays 2pm – 4pm upstairs at Macclesfield Library, £3 charge per session. Do you write stories or poems? Do you think you may have an idea for that one book that’s in us all? Come and join us and find out.