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5.2 What Dictionaries of Quotations exist? DoQs p4




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This article is from the Quotations FAQ, by Sir Hans dok@fwi.uva.nl Jason Newquist jrnewquist@ucdavis.edu with numerous contributions by others.

5.2 What Dictionaries of Quotations exist? DoQs p4

The New Quotable Woman
Published: 1993 (a revised editon of "The Quotable Woman: From Eve to
1799" and "The Quotable Woman 1800-1981")
Publisher: Penguin Group
Editor: Elaine Partnow
Scope: By women
Number of quotations: 15000
ISBN:0-452-01099-3
Quotes are arranged by author, and authors by year of birth. Good
sources, and the information on the authors is about as complete as
you'd want it to be. The keyword index is weak, because small and
somewhat confusing. There are several other indexes as well, including
a very useful one telling us the authors' nationality and/or ethnicity
(pretty cool to find two quotes by a ``!Kung tribeswoman''!)
Some of the quotes are pretty boring, probably because the editor has
tried to include as many people as possible--including those who don't
really have to say something remarkable--like the above-mentioned !Kung
tribeswoman. Still, there's plenty of good stuff as well, and the
price is quite reasonable. It's better than "Like a Fish Needs a
Bicicle" as well.

The New York Public Library Book of 20th-Century American Quotations
Published: 1992 (First Printing: July, 1992)
Publisher: The Stonesong Press, Inc. (Distributor: Warner Books)
Editor: Stephen Donadio
Scope: Quotations, American, Twentieth-Century
Number of quotations: 8-10,000 (The cover flap says ``almost 10,000''
while the introduction says ``more than 8,000'')
ISBN: 0-446-51639-2
This compilation is organized by forty major topics (from Age to
Work) with half of those topics divided into subtopics. Within the
(sub)topics the quotations are listed alphabetically by author's last
name in chronological order. The attribution includes either a primary
or secondary source. There is both an author and a subject index.
The index lists the page the quote can be found on and whether it
can be found in the left or right column. This is great if you are
wandering through quotes, but somewhat tedious if you want to find the
right quote immediately. Numbering each quote (as in "Bartlett's")
would have been better, but this is intended more as a browsing book
than a reference book. There are entire documents/speeches quoted as
well (such as consitutional amendments in the twentieth century, King's
``I Have a Dream'', Kennedy's inaugural address, and more).
I like this book, though the title weighs as much as the book
itself. It has a narrow scope which can be either a strength or a
weakness. I enjoy the quotations being grouped by topic. [JS]

The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations
Published: 1991
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Editor: Tony Augarde
Scope: Quotations from people alive after 1900, chosen on basis of
familiarity.
Number of quotations: 5000
ISBN: 0-19-283086-4
The right stuff! Here at last we find proper references for
everything--no annoying ``Letter to Mrs Wotsit'' as source, but also a
work in which the quote is to be found. An excellent index, originals
of non-English quotations but no Oscar Wilde (why did he have to go and
die in 1900? Boo.) It is very much more a work of reference than one
to read through though. [SH]

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (4th edition)
Published: 1992 (original 1941)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Editor: Oxford University Press
Scope: All quotations, chosen based on familiarity.
Number of quotations: 17000
This is the other of the ``Big Two'' quotation books. Any fan of
quotations should have it available. Like all quotation books, it is
by no means comprehensive, but it attempts to be, and is at least
diverse. Not a book to be read cover to cover, but a good reference
for looking up particular quotes. Quotes are arranged by author. Also
includes a "large" (approximately 300 pages) and comprehensive subject
index. [But see "Bartlett's" -SH] [MM, ed. by SH]
Qua research this one is the best, as far as I know. There are
very complete sources for everything, so that we are not just told that
Ms X said something in a speech, but we also get to know where we can
look it up for ourselves, should we be thus inclined. Something new in
the 4th edition (and lacking in, e.g. "Bartlett's") is a one-line
description of almost all persons quoted. Get it or regret it. [SH]

The Pan Dictionary of Famous Quotations (revised edition)
(first published as "The Modern Dictionary of Quotations" (1962))
Published: 1989
Publisher: Grange Books
Editor: Robin Hyman
Scope: All, chosen on familiarity
Number of quotations: 6000
ISBN: 1-85627-363-6
First of all, ``technical'' details concerning this dictionary are
a bit vague, and I have also seen the complete text of it under a
different name (an NTC reference work or something like that) possibly
the rights for this are very cheap, something which would not surprise
me, given the lack of quality (amusingly, of the 4 quotes given on the
backside of my edition, one is misquote, and another is attributed
incorrectly. Also, there we are told that the "index" contains over
25,000 entries. Who are they trying to fool?) It seems to be rather
outdated as well, despite the claim that it's a ``revised edition''.
If you want a nice DoQ, there are many better choices. If you don't,
then why are you reading this? Go away. [SH]

A comment:

I think your judgement is rather harsh. It is not the best DoQ, but
it is not the worst. Authors are given birth and death dates,
translations often have the original (but no Russian for Tolstoy), the
source is given for the quotations, and the aim of the index has been
``to refresh memories by providing finger-posts to half-remembered
quotations.'' My copy has no quotes on the back, just some extracts
from reviews, and the publisher's blurb for the book. Perhaps you have
a reprint put out by a publisher seeking the maximum income for the
least expenses. [Yes--SH] If so, ``revisions'' will be largely
invisible [They're non-existent, really--SH] . . . I have a copy in my
office, and it is good enough to answer many of the queries in
alt.quotations. If you want just one DoQ, then no; but if you see a
copy cheap, why not buy it as another DoQ? [If you like 'em, yes,
otherwise it would be largely superfluous if you already had something
decent--SH] [RS]

 

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