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The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce

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Book Review

A virtual onslaught of acerbic, confrontational wordplay, The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary offers some 1,600 wickedly clever definitions to the vocabulary of everyday life. Little is sacred and few are safe, for Ambrose Bierce targets just about any pursuit, from matrimony to immortality, that allows our wilful failings and excesses to shine forth. This is the most extensively annotated edition of a work by Bierce ever published, and the first edition of The Devil's Dictionary to provide detailed bibliographical information on every entry. It will be celebrated by wits and word lovers everywhere. Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) was one of nineteenth-century America's most renowned satirists. The author of short stories, essays, fables, poems, and sketches, he was a popular columnist and wrote for several San Francisco and London newspapers during his forty-year journalism career. David E. Schultz is a technical editor. This book was first compiled as The Cynic's Word Book in 1906 and reissued under the author's preferred title five years later. Employing a terse, aphoristic style, Bierce lampooned social, professional, and religious convention, as in his definitions for bore - "A person who talks when you wish him to listen"; architect - "One who drafts a plan of your house, and plans a draft of your money"; and saint - "A dead sinner revised and edited." Many of the entries include "authenticating" citations from spurious scholarly sources.

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