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  •  Oxford English Dictionary asks public to help.. (10+ / 0-)

    ..track down mystery book

    Meanderings of Memory by Nightlark, from which 51 words in the OED are thought to be sourced, is nowhere to be found

    The Oxford English Dictionary is appealing to the public for help after being unable to trace a mysterious, possibly pornographic, 19th-century book from which a number of its quotations are derived.
    Meanderings of Memory, by one "Nightlark", is dated to 1852 by the OED, and appears in 51 entries for the dictionary, including "couchward", "extemporize" and "fringy". Veronica Hurst, the OED's principal bibliographer, said its shadowy existence was discovered when a member of staff was working on the entry for "revirginize", for which Meanderings of Memory is the earliest citation. The quotation taken from the book for the OED is: "Where that cosmetic … Shall e'er revirginize that brow's abuse." But Meanderings of Memory could not be traced in any library catalogue or database, so Hurst was contacted; she expected to track the book down within 10 minutes.
    "That turned into half an hour, and I was no further along the line to solving it – I looked on Google Books, in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, in short I looked everywhere I could think of and couldn't come up with anything," said Hurst. "We're not usually completely floored, but this time we're stumped."
    The only evidence for the book's existence the OED could find was an entry in a bookseller's catalogue, which includes the description: "Written and published by a well-known connoisseur with the epigraph 'Cur potius lacrimae tibi mi Philomela placebant?'"
    "We naturally thought the Latin quotation would be a huge clue [but] it's not a quote from anything," said Hurst. "It means, roughly, 'why did my tears please you more, my Philomel?', and Philomela is another name for a nightingale." The book's author, meanwhile, is "Nightlark", she pointed out.
    Rachel Maddow featured this unusual story 5/17/2013
    said Hurst. "One theory is that it could be pornographic, or in some ways a clandestine publication that didn't get recorded in the normal way …
    Link to theGuardin: http://www.guardian.co.uk/...
    .......................................................

    Thx Neon Vincent & all alumni editors for another fscinating addition of OND

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