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