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Oxford Concise Dictionary of Quotations
Revised Edition

Partington, Angela (ed.)
Publisher:  Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York
Year Published:  1997   First Published:  1964
Pages:  596pp   ISBN:  0-19-280070-1
Library of Congress Number:  PN6080.C58 1997   Dewey:  082-dc21

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Speechwriters and journalists know the value of a well-chosen quote. Some are largely contextual, as George Leigh Mallory's "Because it's there". Some are well-known while their origins are not, as Phineas T. Barnums's, "There's a sucker born every minute", while others are lesser-known quotes from famous people, as Charles de Gaulle's, "How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?". Still others have been remembered while their sources have long been forgotten, as the anonymous author of "Black is beautiful."

For a tidy collection of literary and historical quotations, Oxford University Press offers a revised dictionary of over 9,000 quotes ranging from Homer, Shakespeare and the Bible, to "sound-bites of today's politicians and pop stars." The back cover further boasts new appendices bringing this newest edition "fully up to date".

The new appendices are indeed fun and interesting. There are now a handful of 'Popular Misquotations' a la "Play it again, Sam". The selected 'Sayings of the 90s' - not as hip as one might anticipate - are primarily political with nary a Seinfeld reference ("These pretzels are making me thirsty!").

'Slogans' includes wartime and political propaganda like that found on a poster showing a long queue outside an unemployment office circa 1978, "Labour isn't working", as well as advertising slogans like the UK Hat Council's 1965 advert, "If you want to get ahead, get a hat".

The entries appear in alphabetical order by author, and include birth and death dates. Within each author entry, quotations are arranged by alphabetical order of the titles of the works from which they are taken. Quotes from books, plays, and poems are distinguished from those which comprise part of a published volume or collection. A date in brackets indicates first publication in volume form of the work cited.

A keyword index provides the page number of particular quotes and their authors. It also indicates the number of the quote on the page, each being numbered for that purpose.

The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Quotations is a pleasant, compact and entertaining source of literary and historical quotations.

[Review by Rachel Kramer]

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