Herein are contained the sardonic definitions published by Ambrose Bierce as The Cynic's Word Book in 1906; augmented, edited and republished by the illustrious author in 1911 as The Devil's Dictionary. Unlike other editions which modify, tone down and make moronic additions to Bierce's original Devil's Dictionary, presented here are the complete contents of the 1911 edition without deletions, modifications or embellishments, of any kind, which might diminish the impact of the original politically incorrect collection; hence, the redundant descriptive addition to the title as "Complete and Unabridged" which would surely have caused the Bierce to go ballistic if he were still alive.
Ambrose Bierce was an extraordinary individual: a veteran of the American Civil War, renowned writer, political pundit, social commentator and, in many ways, a philosopher who was ahead of his time. His mysterious disappearance, in 1914 during the Mexican Revolution, was the subject of the movie: Old Gringo.
Shortly before he vanished, he wrote to a friend: "Good-bye - if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that is a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico - ah, that is euthanasia".
His own definition of cynic suited him well:
"CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision."
History, n. an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools. Marriage, n. The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all two. Self-Esteem, n. An erroneous appraisement.
These caustic aphorisms, collected in The Devil's Dictionary, helped earn Ambrose Bierce the epithets Bitter Bierce, the Devil's Lexicographer, and the Wickedest Man in San Francisco. First published as The Cynic's Word Book (1906) and later reissued under its preferred name in 1911, Bierce's notorious collection of barbed definitions forcibly contradicts Samuel Johnson's earlier definition of a lexicographer as a harmless drudge. There was nothing harmless about Ambrose Bierce, and the words he shaped into verbal pitchforks a century ago--with or without the devil's help--can still draw blood today.
This enjoyable abridgment is an updated version of a classic lexicon by one of the 19th century's most famous satirists. Originally published between 1881 and 1886 as a regular feature in the Wasp, a San Francisco journal, and again in 1904 in Hearst papers, Bierce's 700 definitions are just as humorous, witty, and satiric today as they were then. They mock social, professional, and religious conventions while also providing a small glimpse into late 19th-century society. Entries include, for example, "Apologize" ("To lay the foundation for a future offence"); "Beggar" ("One who has relied on the assistance of his friends"); and "Saint" ("A dead sinner revised and edited"). Illustrations by satiric cartoonist Steadman complement the text, while Angus Calder's (The People's War) introduction provides basic biographical data on Bierce's life and works and a brief bibliography. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Laurie Selwyn, Grayson Cty. Law Lib., Sherman, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information....Continua