300 Best Word Puzzles

ISBN: 0684130688

Category: Technical

Tag: Science/Engineering


Posted on 2010-12-06. By anonymous.

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Henry Ernest Dudeney, "300 Best Word Puzzles"
Scribner | 1968 | ISBN: 0684130688 | 172 pages | PDF | 1,2 MB

The World's Best Word Puzzles, by England's most distinguished puzzlist Henry Ernest Dudeney, was published in 1925 by The Daily Nelvs, a London news-
paper. Dudeney \vas then 68, with a worldwide reputation as the greatest puzzle inventor of all tim. I have given a biographical sketch of him in my intro-
d uction to his 536 Puzzles and Curious Problems (Scribners, 1967), so I win say no more about him here except for a few facts bcaring on the present vol-
ume.
Dudeney was priInarily interested in mathematical puzzles. Of his five other books, four dcalt exclusively with mathematical recreations and the fifth, a post-
humous work cancd A Puzzle-Mine, had only one chaptcr on word puzzles. He recognized, however, that many of the readers of his popular monthly column in The Strand Magazine enjoyed word puzzles, and that even professional mathematicians (Lewis Carroll, for one) were addicted to word play. In 1925 Dudeney put togethcr his littlc book of word puzzles, most of them reprinted from his Strand columns, others taken from earlier literature and from letters sent to him by readers or invented by himself but not yct published.
In his preface to the book Dudeney expressed his belief that it was the first attenlpt "to bring together a selection of the best puzzles with words and letters of thc alphabet." If we take "word puzzles" in a modern sensce, including all the varieties that had developed since 1900, and if we confine our attention to the English language, then Dudcney's statement is probably correct. Therc had been earlier puzzle books in England that included nlany word puzzles along with Inathematical ones, such as Don Lemon's Everybody's Illustrated Book of Puzzles (1892). There had been books devoted to word puzzles of the older type-riddles, charades, acrostics, enignlas, and so on-such as Tom Hood's Excursions into Puzzledom (1879)' There had even been books devoted to specific types of word play, such as Henry B. Wheatley's Of Anagrams (1862), G. R. Clark's Palindromes (1886), and Ronald A. Knox's Book of Acrostics (1924). But Dudency seems to have been the first to cover the entire spectrum in a systematic manner, catching the new forms, classifying them, and selecting what he considered the best of each variety. Thc result was a charming volume that is still one of the best introductions to the bizarre, fascinating world of English language play. It is here reprinted in its entirety, lightly edited for American readers, and supplenlented by all the word puzzles
in A Puzzle-Mine that did not duplicate items in the earlier book.
There has been, of course, tremendous progress in all types of word play since Dudeney wrote his book; there was even work in the United States that pre-
dated Dudeney's book and with which he probably was not familiar. In the United States a number of flimsy, amateurishly edited periodicals devoted to word
puzzles have appeared from time to time since the 1880'S. The two best were The Eastern Enig71Ul, issued monthly by the Eastern Puzzler's League from 1883 to 1920, and its successor, The Enigma, official organ of the National Puzzler's League, which has appeared irregularly from 1920 to the present. Material from the first periodical was collected in A Key to Puzzledom ( 1906), and from the second periodical in Retd Puzzles, by John Q. Boyer, Rufus T. Strohm, and George H. Pryor (1925). The material in both books, however, pales in comparison to the astonishing feast of items in two recent books by Dmitri Borgmann: Language on Vacation (Scribners, 1965) and Beyond Language (Scribner S, 1967).
If you enjoy the kind of word play in this pioneer work by Dudeney, you will be astonished and entranced by the fantastic later developments presented
in Borgmann's two remarkable books.
--Martin Gardner


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