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Random House Webster's Quotationary Hardcover – November 24, 1998


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Hardcover, November 24, 1998
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Reference; 1st edition (November 24, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679448500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679448501
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 8.1 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though Emerson said "Quotation confesses inferiority," and Thomas Fuller advised "Search not Authors to say what thou canst as well say thyself," E.M. Cioran warned "Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation," and Vauvenargues contended that "Other people's wit does not entertain us for long," there is always the viewpoint of Samuel Richardson, who said "We are wise by other people's experience," and Ovid's, who believed "It is right to learn even from one's enemies."

The Quotationary is a collection of quotations, some 20,000 of them, arranged by subject (from Ability to Zen, and each with suggestions of other headings to check for similar topics), cross-referenced by author (from Edward Abbey on truthfulness to Martin Zweig on the stock market), and then indexed by subject categories as well, making it easy to find the right bon mot to start a speech or cap an argument (or cap a speech and start an argument). And they are addictive. It may be instructive, but it is also entertaining to read the words of others. There's Napoleon's view that "All being said, I like only those people who are useful to me, and only so long as they are useful," and Fran Lebowitz opining that "There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death." The important thing is that whatever take on life you espouse, you can not only find elegant quotes to support you, but also fine words to the opposite. --Stephanie Gold

From Booklist

The 20,000 quotations in this volume are arranged by subject, from ability to Zen, and then alphabetically by author. The editor says he has included "the most interesting, well-phrased thoughts and observations." The quotations include factual statements, song lyrics, slogans, titles, and phrases. The time frame and authors are comprehensive, from Justinian I: "The precepts of the law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one. . ."; to Bill Clinton: "Character is a journey, not a destination." The great variety of other authors includes Larry Bird, George Booth, Henry Clay, James Fenimore Cooper, Olympia Dukakis, David Letterman, Madonna, Montaigne, Napoleon, Norman Rockwell, and Frances Trollope. The citations that accompany the quotations are quite complete: page number; section or line for books, plays, and poems; but unfortunately only the date for newspaper and magazine quotations.

A unique feature of the book is the extensive cross-referencing. Under the category headings are see also references to related categories or quotations, and under many individual quotations are see references to other quotations that are similar in content or form. Following the quotations are an index by author or source and an index of the subject categories.

Up to this point, Quotationary looks as if it could be competition for Bartlett's famous Familiar Quotations [RBB N 1 92], now in its sixteenth edition. However, Quotationary is missing a vital part--a keyword index. The importance of a keyword index is illustrated by its length in Bartlett's, which is more than 600 pages. Without this type of index it is doubtful that the quotation "The opera ain't over till the fat lady sings" would be found in Quotationary unless the source (sports broadcaster Dan Cook) is known, because it is under the category optimism: examples. Likewise, who would think to look under voting for the quote from an anonymous source, "When I die I want to be buried in Chicago so I can still be active in politics" (except perhaps a Chicagoan)?

Bartlett's and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations [fourth ed., RBB D 1 92] are arranged by author. Because both have keyword indexes, they are better tools for finding a specific quotation. Its category arrangement makes Quotationary an excellent tool for browsing for quotations by subject. Recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries as a complement to standard sources.

Customer Reviews

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If you were to buy one quotation book only, I would recommend it be this book.
"mom2bacall"
I have several quotation reference books, but this is the one that sits on my desk because it is by far my favorite.
Fernando Melendez
I have several dozen quote books in my personal library, including the usuals like Oxford and Bartlett's.
S. Rhinehart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Fernando Melendez on April 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have several quotation reference books, but this is the one that sits on my desk because it is by far my favorite. It contains a good mixture of recent, old, and ancient sayings, organized by themes. Many quotations are cross-referenced by theme, and others by similarity of structure ("Nothing succeeds like success," by Dumas, leads to "Nothing succeeds like excess" by Wilde.) There are over 20,000 quotes, meticulously referenced and often containing rich ancillary material. For instance, the famous "I'll have what she is having" is cited under the general theme of "Sex;" it notes that the author was Nora Ephron (1941--) in the film "When Sally Met Harry," 1989. Said by a woman diner to the waiter after observing Meg Ryan, at another table, acting out an orgasm.
While surfing the book I came across this quotation by Henry Kissinger, on the occasion of Nixon's nomination for president in 1968: "This man, of course, is a disaster. Now the Republican Party is a disaster. Fortunately, he can't be elected--or the whole country would be a disaster area." And this by Nixon, used frequently in reference to Kissinger: "My Jew boy," cited in Isaacson's "Kissinger: A Biography," 1992.
I'm sorry that not a single citation by Borges made the cut. At least his marvelous characterization of England and Argentina after the Falkland's war should have made it: "It was a fight of two bald men over a comb." The book also has its irritants: it contains no index of first words or fist lines. Thus, if one wants to know who said "Play it again, Sam," there is no easy way of finding out that NOBODY in Casablanca uttered those words.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By S. Rhinehart on May 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have several dozen quote books in my personal library, including the usuals like Oxford and Bartlett's. Among big quote dictionaries, the Quotationary is the best. I wish it had a key word index, but even without one, I find this book more enjoyable and useful than the others. It truly is fun just to sit and read several pages at a time.
After reading dozens of quote books, I have seen ample proof that too many quote compilers spend more time copying each others' work than finding NEW material; this sometimes results in the same incorrect information showing up in several different books. The Quotationary is a very pleasant exception, and the source information has proven near-perfect in accuracy.
If you can only buy one major quote dictionary, this one is an outstanding choice.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David R. Cox on January 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've owned a few similar books in the past, and they provided a bit of amusement, but rarely had a quote I found really appropriate when I needed it. This compilation, though, seems to have good selections and they're crossreferenced in such a way that you can get so absorbed in your search that you forget why you initially reached for the book. I ordered several quotation books from Amazon, and this one, by far, is the one I'll use most. For those who intend to buy just one book of quotations, this is the answer.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gross on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
There are many books of quotations, but none as thorough and readable as the Quotationary. I found it both a learning experience and an enjoyable read. Because of its excellent organization and cross-referencing, I could go from one subject, or author, to another, creating my own personal journey. Of all the quotation books I've browsed or read, this one has the choicest selections. If you are looking for the perfect quote on any of more than 1000 subjects, keep your Quotationary close at hand.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "mom2bacall" on November 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am a dedicated collector of quotations, and I would rate thisbook at the top of all quotation resources I have discovered over theyears. Not just a collection of cliches and aphorisms, it offers refreshing new material on just about every subject imaginable. If you were to buy one quotation book only, I would recommend it be this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Pangburn VINE VOICE on February 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Eric Hoffer's best stuff. The distilled H. L. Mencken. The best lines of David Letterman, Langston Hughes, Barbara Kinsolver, Peter DeVries, Bob Hope, Garrison Keillor, and much of the wit and wisdom of our age is encompassed between these covers. A bargain at twice the price.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
If wisdom can be put in words, the words are in this book. Move over Bartlett's, the Quotationary will set the agenda for quotations for the next 100 years.
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