Wed July 28, 2010
The Man behind Roget's Thesaurus. (Encore presentation.)
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, a program from our archives --- we speak with Joshua Kendall, author of a biography of Peter Mark Roget, the man who created Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (which was first published in 1852 in London). The bio is called "The Man Who Made Lists," and it's now available in paperback. As we learn on today's show, Roget was a rare and gifted hybrid of the scientist and the literary scholar, of the record-keeper and the wordsmith. Obsessive, introspective, and keenly curious about science and nature and the world he saw around him, Roget was a classic "man of the Enlightenment" who was also, from an early age onward, very fond of listing/ranking/categorizing things. As the writer Thomas Mallon has noted, reviewing this book in the pages of The New York Times: "If the title of Joshua Kendall's fine new biography of Roget has a clinical Oliver Sacks feel, the material pretty much justifies it.... Kendall's style is plain and sensible; he gets the job done with sympathy and speed, occasionally entertaining the reader with a novelistic flourish."