Monday, March 14, 2016

A title I'm a bit obsessed with

So I was at a used bookstore and came across a title that I've found weirdly fascinating.

I just can't understand how "Chasing the Sun: Dictionary Makers and the Dictionaries They Made" came to be the final choice, for a few reasons.  First, the seeming non-sequitur or the title and subtitle.  "Chasing the Sun" could apply to aviators, astronomers, inventors, explorers, actors, philosophers... but lexicographers?  Putting aside pun titles (like "Penning the Word"), there are a lot of things that would make more sense than "Chasing the Sun."  Secondly, the grandiosity of the title is completely at odds with the matter-of-factness of the subtitle.  Consider a couple other books I have, both from the Oxford History of the US series: "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era" and "Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War."  In the latter, the same tone is present in the title and subtitle, In the former, both title and subtitle are six syllables, at least making it flow better.  Following a four syllable grandiose title with a fourteen syllable bland subtitle makes the subtitle seem like a letdown.  Thirdly (and lastly), I feel that specifying "the dictionaries they made" is redundant, mostly due to the verbosity of the subtitle (why not "and their craft?").  I mean, they're dictionary makers. Does anyone think they're going to read about dictionary makers and the wild parties they threw?  

Maybe I'm really overthinking this (I'm definitely overthinking this), but I just can't understand the reasoning behind this title.


  1. Wild guess: one of the dictionary makers profiled used a similar phrase once, and this author essentially copied them. Reading the introduction should be enough to settle that.