A glorious celebration of language as our primary identity and instrument of self construction, referential to the mission of Wittgenstein and his protégé James Joyce to reinvent and liberate humankind through language, Eley Williams’ The Liar’s Dictionary is a romantic comedy which recalls A.S. Byatt’s masterpiece Possession, but also a metaphysical novel which recalls Iris Murdoch’s The Philosopher’s Pupil.
Two lexicographers a century apart share interconnected lives in alternating chapters, a Mad Hatter’s tea party of words and the souls they create. The search for meaning in language and in ourselves has rarely been more fun. Full of word games, origins, and puzzles which reference those of Georges Perec, Raymond Queneau, and Italo Calvino, The Liar’s Dictionary is in part a search for the boundaries of meaning and the limits of formal structure and the sounds of words as shaping forces of cognition.
The theme of falsification of ourselves is interrogated through the quest to find invented words used to secure copyright in a dictionary; but how to disambiguate true from false, real from imagined?
We are the thoughts we are able to have, the language with which we think and speak and write. Language then becomes an instrument with which we can shape and direct our own evolution. Who then shall we become?