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The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary Paperback – January 3, 2002
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Bierce was America's first realist writer, but, unlike realism's later practitioners, he knew something about reality―it's really funny.(P. J. O'Rourke)
This carefully edited manuscript will add immeasurably to Bierce studies.(Joseph B. McCullough University of Nevada-Las Vegas)
This is a work of genuinely impressive scholarship and will undoubtedly become the authoritative text for Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary.(Thomas V. Quirk University of Missouri-Columbia)
Splendidly produced.(London Times Literary Supplement)
A compilation of all of Bierce's satirical definitions published over a forty-year period, this latest version of the Dictionary ('A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic') merits a wide readership both within and without the Academy ('A modern school where football is taught').(American Literary Review)
Most readers and biographers have agreed with Schultz and Joshi that The Devil's Dictionary is 'quintessential Bierce.' For the serious student of Bierce's diabolical lexicon, their beautiful new edition . . . will be a delight.(Sewanee Review)
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1.One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally
2.One inclined to skepticism in religious matters.
a.often Skeptic An adherent of a school of skepticism.
b.Skeptic A member of an ancient Greek school of skepticism, especially that of Pyrrho of
Elis (360?-272? B.C.).
[Latin Scepticus, disciple of Pyrrho of Elis, from Greek Skeptikos, from skeptesthai, to examine.
See spek- in Indo-European Roots.]
1.A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
2.A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.
3.Cynic A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only
good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.
[Latin cynicus, Cynic philosopher, from Greek kunikos, from kun, kun-, dog. See kwon- in
Such are the real dictionary definitions of the stance which Ambrose Bierce adopted in considering the world. Beginning in 1881 and continuing to 1906, he created a series of sardonic word definitions of his own. Many of these were collected and published as The Cynic's Word Book, which he later protested was "a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve." So in 1911, he pulled together a collection that was more to his own liking and called it The Devil's Dictionary. The entries are a tad uneven in quality, but most are amusing and some are great.Read more ›
Sheer honesty abounds. The insurance agent that came by my place rapidly deflated when I showed him the entry for "insurance" while (to his credit) acknowledged its veracity...
"an ingenious modern game of chance in which the player is permitted to enjoy the comfortable conviction that he is beating the man who keeps the table."
(followed by a vicious, fictitious and brilliant dialogue between an agent and perspective mark wherein said agent tries to overcome the mark's observation that by the agent's own actuarial tables a home owner without insurance would most likely save the full value of the house in premiums well before any loss... )
And that's just one of hundreds of essays. One of my intellectual heroes.
When Bierce went to work for William Randolph Hearst's newspaper empire, Hearst forced him to change the name of his occasional "The Devil's Dictionary" to "The Cynic's Dictionary". Bierce later explained: "They (the publishers) won't have 'The Devil's Dictionary.' Here in the East the Devil is a sacred personage (the Fourth Person of the Trinity, as an Irishman might say) and his name must not be taken in vain." Hence, Bierce first published a book-length collection in 1906 as "The Cynic's Word Book". He published another version as "The Devil's Dictionary" in 1911. Neither contained all the definitions that Bierce had published in one form or another over a span of more than three decades. In this fine book, THE UNABRIDGED DEVIL'S DICTIONARY, editors David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi set out to remedy that, collecting within the covers of a single library-worthy book ALL of Bierce's definitions.
There is a scholarly eighteen-page introduction that discusses Bierce's definition-mongering in enough detail to satisfy the inordinately curious. There follows the heart of the book: 235 pages of definitions, in alphabetical order. (To many of his definitions Bierce adds illustrative stories, doggerel verse, and random musings.Read more ›
Here is just a taste of his humor.
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
Eulogy. Praise of a person who has either the advantages of wealth and power, or the consideration to be dead.
Good good stuff.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like this book. I do think that some of the words are way too predictable and vague. I am mostly in love with the concept of this book. I am party inspired to mimic the style. Read morePublished 2 months ago by J. Fisher
Hilarious, cynical, bitter, witty. This book is a perfect reflection of the guy who wrote it. It's also a great window into the mind and humor of 19th century America, and a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by b1776cr7
I've only read a few entries. I'd feel badly not to review it at all.Published 12 months ago by staceyg685
A very interesting book of cynical quotes and observations. A good read. A must-have for any writer.Published 16 months ago by Benjamin Gohs
If you like to read interesting short stories by a master craftsman, this is the book for you. Ambrose Bierce is an American classic writer.Published 16 months ago by JayByrd
Discovered this gem in the loo of one of my graduate school professors. This book is one of several that should be handy near the toilet of every thinking person for patient,... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Valiant Crusader