- Series: Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
- Hardcover: 1152 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 5 edition (November 25, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198601735
- ISBN-13: 978-0198601739
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 2.4 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,862,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 5th Edition
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The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations is as impressive, erudite, enjoyable, and educational a tome as you might expect from Oxford. It's the sort of undertaking the press does very well. The first such dictionary, as compiled by Oxford, was published in 1953, and it's been tweaking, modifying, and updating it ever since. This new edition, the fifth, offers well over 20,000 quotations from more than 3,000 authors. Responding to correspondence from their readers, Oxford has restored some material from past editions, such as the proverbs and nursery-rhymes section. There's a much more inclusive attention to sacred texts of world religions, and 2,000 quotations are brand new.
The quotations are arranged alphabetically, by author, so browsing provides insight into the authors quoted, more so than do compendiums that are organize by theme. There is also, however, a full thematic index, starting with Administration, Age, and America, and running the alphabetical gamut through to War, Weather, and Youth. And that is followed by a 283-page comprehensive keyword index. If you needed to fault Oxford with something, it might be the small print, but it certainly wouldn't be the thoroughness or cross-referenceability.
There's Kingsley Amis on hangovers ("His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum") and the sexes ("Women are really much nicer than men. No wonder we like them"). There's Woody Allen on immortality ("I don't want to achieve immortality through my work--I want to achieve it through not dying") and Fred Allen on committees ("A group of men who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done"). Spiro T. Agnew is on record as saying, "If you've seen one city slum you've seen them all." And Konrad Adenauer weighs in with "A thick skin is a gift from God."
There are pages of special categories, such as one of advertising slogans ("Let your fingers do the walking," "It's finger-licking good," and "Beanz meanz Heinz") and three pages of last words ("God will pardon me, it is His trade," from Heinrich Heine; "If this is dying, then I don't think much of it," by Lytton Strachey; and "It's been so long since I've had champagne," by Anton Chekhov). And there are pages of film lines, misquotations, epitaphs, telegrams, and toasts, too. Oxford's Dictionary of Quotations is a wonderfully reliable and inclusive quotation reference, and it's a lot of fun, as well. --Stephanie Gold
From Library Journal
Knowles, whose previous works include The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying, and Quotation, has produced another stellar book. Over one tenth of the book's 20,000 quotations (from over 3000 sources) are included for the first time. Like The Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century Quotations (LJ 3/15/99), one of the sources for this fifth edition, this book includes special categories of quotationsAborrowed titles, last words, film lines, misquotations, closing lines, film titles, and military sayings. After a long absence, proverbs and nursery rhymes are included, and quotes from and about the sacred texts of world religions make their first appearance here. Each quotation contains cross references to others by or about the individual and also includes his or her birth and death dates and profession. Quotations from the same individual are separated by literary form, while those in foreign languages appear in both their original language and in English. A superb thematic index and an extensive keyword index allow the reader to find the source of even partial quotations. The book does have a slight bias toward British quotations, which is logical, given its provenance. Smaller public libraries may prefer quotation dictionaries with predominantly American sources, but the superior organization, comprehensiveness, and special features here will supplement the holdings of most academic and larger public libraries nicely. An essential purchase.ALeah Sparks, Annapolis, MD
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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That said, it is a useful tool and, as far as I know, better than what else is out there.
If you need and/or enjoy "quote books" you simply must have this one.
Both are important works of reference; both are authoritative. Bartlett's latest edition, the 17th is from 2002 while this, the latest Oxford, is from 1999 with a reprint with corrections from 2001. So both are relatively up to date. Bartlett's is a slightly larger book with perhaps 300 more pages; however the number of actual quotations is not that different. Both books quote over 3,000 authors and contain over 20,000 quotations.
The most significant difference between them, to my mind, is that in the Oxford, English authors are favored both in terms of number included and entries by, which is to be expected since the Oxford is an British publication while Bartlett's is an American publication. A quick check shows that British mathematician and philosopher Bertram Russell, for example, has more entries in the Oxford than he does in Bartlett's, whereas both Mark Twain and the Baltimore sage, H. L. Mencken, have more entries in Bartlett's than they do in the Oxford. France's Voltaire commands just about the same space in either book.
The next most important difference is that the quotations are presented alphabetically by author in the Oxford while Bartlett's presents them chronologically beginning with the oldest. Both sources give author's dates. Personally I find the alphabetical arrangement preferable because it often saves me a trip to the alphabetical "Index of Authors" in Bartlett's that I have to make before finding the author I am interested in. When one is looking for a quote by keyword, which often happens, Bartlett's is slightly to be preferred. Its Index is definitely longer (accounting for most of the difference in length between the books) and it is more extensively cross-referenced. In looking up Marx's "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" I found the quote in the Oxford from the keywords "according," "abilities," and "needs." In Bartlett's "according" did not work, but "each," "abilities," and "needs" did. So that was a standoff. However I found the Golden Rule and its source in Bartlett's without any trouble by looking under "Golden Rule" and under "do unto." In the Oxford neither "Golden Rule" nor "do unto" were in the Index of keywords. Both books give Matthew 7:12 as the source.
The Oxford has a slightly more international approach to religious texts. There is a little less of the Bible here, but more of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, and other non-Christian texts, except for the Tao Te Ching from Lao Tzu where Bartlett's has 34 entries to 19 for the Oxford.
Another feature that the Oxford has that will be handy for some is its "Special Categories" which are "Advertising Slogans" (mostly for products sold in the UK), "Misquotations," "Newspaper Headlines and Leaders," "Political Slogans and Songs," and fifteen more. These are text boxes appearing alphabetically among the quotations. Curiously they give the rather staid Oxford reputation a bit of a colloquial feel that may surprise some people.
So how to choose between these two very excellent works of reference? I like them both and if I had to part with either, I would reluctantly let the Oxford go. However if I were English I would part with Bartlett's and keep the Oxford. I really think they are that close in quality. For a secondary consideration, I would prefer the Oxford since its slightly smaller size is a bit handier, especially when balanced on one's chest as one reads in bed!
Bottom line: no serious writer (especially of literature, culture and history) should be without either this or Bartlett's. Next to a dictionary a book of quotations is my most consulted work of reference. To solve the dilemma, I recommend that you splurge and get them both!
--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"