The Devil’s Dictionary – Ambrose Bierce
Download The Devil’s Dictionary ebook. The Devil’s Dictionary is a satirical dictionary written by American Civil War soldier, wit, and writer Ambrose Bierce consisting of common words followed by humorous and satirical definitions. The lexicon was written over three decades as a series of installments for magazines and newspapers. Bierce’s witty definitions were imitated and plagiarized for years before he gathered them into books, first as The Cynic’s Word Book in 1906 and then in a more complete version as The Devil’s Dictionary in 1911.
Initial reception of the book versions was mixed. In the decades following, however, the stature of The Devil’s Dictionary grew. It has been widely quoted, frequently translated, and often imitated, earning a global reputation. In the 1970s, The Devil’s Dictionary was named as one of “The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature” by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. It has been called “howlingly funny”, and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig wrote that The Devil’s Dictionary is “probably the most brilliant work of satire written in America. And maybe one of the greatest in all of world literature.”
Ambrose Bierce. A wickedly clever man of pointed perception, who was waaaay ahead of his time. He fearlessly compiled our human foibles, and then verbally illustrated them in “The Devil’s Dictionary.” And then “poof!” He vanished — never to be seen again! Hasta la vista, A.B. …
Even though this was written well over a century ago, for the most part it feels contemporary. A lot of the social and political satire still holds up today, and the definitions are wonderfully clever.
The version that I got was the free Kindle edition, which is perfectly readable, even though the formatting seems a little off in some places. (I’ve never read it in print form, though, so I’m really no authority for comparison.) It was free though, so what is there to complain about?
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Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – circa 1914) was an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and Civil War veteran.
Bierce’s book The Devil’s Dictionary was named as one of “The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature” by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. His story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge has been described as “one of the most famous and frequently anthologized stories in American literature”; and his book Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (also published as In the Midst of Life) was named by the Grolier Club as one of the 100 most influential American books printed before 1900.
A prolific and versatile writer, Bierce was regarded as one of the most influential journalists in the United States, and as a pioneering writer of realist fiction. For his horror writing, Michael Dirda ranked him alongside Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. His war stories influenced Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, and others, and he was considered an influential and feared literary critic. In recent decades Bierce has gained wider respect as a fabulist and for his poetry.
In December 1913, Bierce traveled to Chihuahua, Mexico, to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. He disappeared, and was rumored to be traveling with rebel troops. He was never seen again.
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