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I have discovered that I am a little out of touch with my old home in Newtown. Not very out of touch but at least a month. For a month ago, Berkelouw opened premises in a side street, sort of like a barn, with a reasonable selection of new and a tidy collection of old. It feels like a nice space. To whit, I have made my first purchase, A Dictionary of Austral English by Morris. This was first published in 1898 and this is the second impression dated 1972. This is a re-issue of the 1898 edition and the work is interesting in that it came about via a request from the folk responsible for the OED for words from this neck of the woods. So many words were gathered that Morris put in some extra work and published it as this standalone, prior to the publication (by a few decades) of the full OED. It was with amusement then, that I read the opening sentence of its introduction:

“About a generation ago Mr Matthew Arnold twitted our nation with the fact that “the journeyman work of literature” was much better done in France – the books of reference, the biographical dictionaries, and the translations from the classics.”

So wrote Edward E. Morris on 23 February, 1897.

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