Christopher Stray (ed.), Classical Dictionaries: Past, Present and Future. London: Duckworth, 2010. Pp. viii, 229. ISBN 9780715639160. $80.00.
http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2011/2011-07-51.htmlThe book’s central chapter, by Christopher Stray, provides sensitive and nuanced insight into the world of 19th-century English classical scholarship. In another example of first-class history of scholarship and archival research, Stray discusses the history of LS(J), interweaving the process of its composition and revision with the lives and personalities of the people involved. The piece’s most valuable contribution is an understanding of the constraints governing the origin and revision of the lexicon. These constraints were intimately bound up in the press’s desire to market a product and make a profit: as an example, to save money and simplify revision, the type was sometimes left standing or electrotyped for subsequent editions. This did indeed facilitate revision—but at the cost of allowing for only minor changes. Such a fundamentally conservative process has left a lot of venerable absurdities in its wake, and it goes a long way toward explaining LSJ’s current state.