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Elisp is a Lisp

There are many Lisps and ELisp is one of them. As you will see Lisp is a rich and complex language made from many small and fundamental components.

Lisp has a long history going back to 1958 and over the years has spawned many dialects, including:

  • many variants of Common Lisp
  • Scheme
  • Clojure
  • Paul Graham's Arc

One of the characteristics of Lisp is that Lisp programmes are also Lisp data. Many advanced Lisp techniques involve using meta-programming - the use of a Lisp to generate and execute Lisp programmes.

One consequence of this is the various Lisp implementations have themselves diverged with different collections of libraries that can radically alter the 'flavour' of a particular dialect.

This variance can make it hard to learn a Lisp from scratch. It if very difficult for a beginner to untangle the various dialects from each other.

This book very much focused on Elisp and largely eschews any discussion of other dialects to avoid complicating things for people learning, what is in many cases, a radically different way for programming.

There are a small number of places where other Lisp implementations will be discussed, but they are all paranthetic to the main book - and none of them will be in the lessons themselves.

Other Lisp Resources

There are a number of freely available Lisp books, including:

There are also purchasable books, including:

Although the focus of this book is on building Emacs tools, another intention is to teach enough Lisp that a beginner can cheerfully use the extensive Emacs Lisp reference documentation, and feel confident to try out other dialects of Lisp.

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