The Devil's Dictionary Author:Ambrose Bierce Synopsis — Originally titled "The Cynic's Word Book", this classic of satire was written by a man who defined a cynic as "a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they might be." — Publisher's Note — Adapted and illustrated by Gahan Wilson, The Devil's Dictionary is a hilarious satire from one of the most brilliant and incis... more »ive writers of all time--Ambrose Bierce. Gahan Wilson's work appears regularly in The New Yorker and Playboy; he illustrated the Classics Illustrated version of Poe's The Raven and Other Stories.
"In 1913, at the age of 71, Ambrose Bierce left for Mexico, "with a pretty definite purpose, which, however, is not at present disclosable." He was never heard from again. Thus vanished America's greatest satirist in the classic tradition.
Since his disappearance, Bierce has been "rediscovered" about a dozen times, and always a sense of surprise that America could have produced such a man. But a second glance at his work always indicates that only America could have produced him. Writing in the tradition of Swift and Shaw, he nevertheless aims his barbs at the specifically American institutions of which he was so much a part, impartially, but not indiscriminately, puncturing the sacred pomposities and cherished absurdities of American politics, business, religion, literature, and arts. He is as much a part of the American humor tradition as Mark Twain, Will Rogers, or Fred Allen.
The Devil's Dictionary reveals him in all his irreverent and sardonic splendor, japing mercilessly at our follies and self~delusions with all the classical epigrammatic perfection of language that was his hallmark. Hundreds of pointed definitions, maxims, apocryphal quotations, and satirical verses attest to the power of his delightful wit. Bierce will always remain the favorite of a small coterie of enthusiasts, and of writers and speakers whom he supplies with, as H. L. Mencken said, " some of the most gorgeous witticisms of the English language." But he deserves a wider audience. His is the sort of unhurried, thoughtful humor that lasts."« less