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Are You A Bromide? Paperback – September 10, 2010

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About the Author

Frank Gelett Burgess was born in Boston in 1866. After getting a degree from MIT in 1887, he moved to California to teach at U. Cal Berkeley. While there, and later in New York and Paris, he wrote many humorous novels, poems and stories, many of which are still in print, including Goops and How to Be Them, More Goops and How Not to Be Them, and The Purple Cow. Burgess died in 1951 in Carmel, CA. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (September 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1162653469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1162653464
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,671,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Bob Manson on September 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever wondered where the word "bromide" comes from... well, it's here. Only the usage is a bit different today (when it is used at all, as it's a rather dated term nowdays); Burgess uses it as a noun referring to a person who is set in their ways and habitually uses trite sayings. Most modern dictionaries list his usage as a secondary definition. A 1920s Webster's lists it as a slang term with a reference to this work, and uses only Burgess' definition. (No definition for `sulfite', however.)

The book itself is a mixture of very dry wit and absurdity, and in some ways reminds me of the much later book "Is Sex Necessary" in its approach to describing personalities. Burgess divides people into two groups (Bromides and Sulfites) and spends much time describing the habits of each. He also includes a list of sayings habitually used by Bromides, which may further explain the more modern usage of the word. At the end he carefully explains that both Bromides and Sulfites have their place in life, and encourages tolerance and understanding of the "poor Bromide".

I think the work is intended to be partly serious, as he wrote more serious "self-help" books as well. This copy included some small ads for other books I hope to read someday.

My copy (a fifth printing from 1906) has an interesting design, with "Deco-ist" red scribbles around each page and similar scribbles occasionally occurring between paragraphs. Given that first editions are available relatively cheaply, and the text of the book can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg for free, it's probably not worth buying a "new" copy.

It's certainly a neat little curiosity, and if you enjoy laughing at the modern self-help movement this one is a real gem.
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