|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Published: 1991 (3rd edition)
Genre: Literary Reference
Started: Sept. 29, 2011
Finished: Oct. 6, 2011 (8 days)
Where Found: Book Depot
Why Read: I knew that James Lipton had written this book but I thought it was a novel. When I found the book and skimmed through it, it turned out to be a unique piece of literary reference!
Summary: The history of venery, a linguistic term referring to collective nouns, is rendered in this handy reference book that traces the origins of centuries-old terms and reflects on more contemporary, unofficial examples.
First things first: James Lipton is great at writing introductions. I've read two of his books and they both have intriguing prologues that open up a Pandora's box of fascination with academic integrity and a string of analogies that make clear the intent and heart of the project he undertakes. An Exaltation of Larks appears on the surface to be a dictionary but it's a very satisfying experience to read chronologically.
Lipton uses sophisticated vocabulary and his trademark dry wit in publishing nearly exhaustive research supplemented by resources hundreds of years old in a glorified reference book that traces the linguistic history of collective terms from the most common (e.g. a pride of lions) to the lesser known (e.g. a rascal of boys) to the creative puns thought up by academic contemporaries (e.g. under the category of academe: a dilation of pupils!).
The book is a handy reference for teachers and makes for a good icebreaker. The gorgeous illustrations, designed by Lipton's wife Kedakai, are included on nearly every page and provide further insight into the origins of the terms. This is one unique book.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend