Magazine
Latest Issue

Dr Roget’s 990 lists

Roget's Thesaurus is more than just a book about words—and the story of its author's often unhappy life provides a suggestive counterpoint to its complexities

Peter Mark Roget, the future Linnaus of the English word, began compiling word-lists at the age of eight. Why was he not playing with other children, honing his social skills? The problem was his mother, a widow at 28, who drained her son of sympathy. Catherine Romilly gave birth to a wonderful, handsome, talented boy , but couldn’t let him be himself. Independence, he would write in his Thesaurus under list 744, equals freedom of action, unilaterality; freedom of choice, initiative. But for freedom see also non-liability, disobedience, seclusion and liberation: the way one insists on freedom in the face…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect