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Random House Webster's Quotationary Hardcover – November 24, 1998
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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
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.
Top customer reviews
Solidly special in depth over the aeons back to pre-biblical times but showing
it's years by lack of entries after it's publishing 20 years ago. I use it every day.