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The man who made lists

A NY Times review of Roget’s biography.

The “categorical imperative” means something quite different, but it does sound like the right term for the self-protective psychological urge that drove Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869), creator of the Thesaurus, to classify and categorize all manner of things over a long lifetime. Madness did not just run in his family; it galloped, sped, sprinted, dashed and made haste. If the title of Joshua Kendall’s fine new biography of Roget has a clinical Oliver Sacks feel, the material pretty much justifies it.

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