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Thursday, 31 January 2013
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Auden
Two examples of major writers who pillaged OED and other dictionaries for material are W. H. Auden (whom we cover in more detail in our new section on Sources: literary authors; see pages starting here) and James Joyce.

Auden is quoted 766 times in the Supplement, sometimes for eccentric usages like baltering, soodling, apotropaic. He himself thought a dictionary better than the 'greatest literary masterpiece', because 'a dictionary is absolutely passive and may legitimately be read in an infinite number of ways'. He was a voracious reader of OED - in 1972 his copy was so tattered he considered buying a new one (Rosen 1975: 219) - and a good proportion of the (often highly abstruse) words from his poetry which Burchfield included in the Supplement almost certainly came from the OED in the first place (as can be seen by looking up baltering and soodling in OED). This was a phenomenon Burchfield acknowledged just once in the dictionary...See next page.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 17 July 2008 )
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