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The Devil's Dictionary




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About the book:

The Devil's Dictionary did not reappear in Bierce's next column ("Prattle," in the magazine The Argonaut, of which he had become an editor in March 1877). Nevertheless, he used the idea of comic definitions in his columns dated November 17, 1877, and September 14, 1878. It was in early 1881 that Bierce first used the title, The Devil's Dictionary, while editor-in-chief of another weekly San Francisco magazine, Wasp. The "dictionary" proved popular, and during his time in this post (1881-86) he included 88 installments, each of 15-20 new definitions. In 1887 Bierce became an editor in The Examiner and featured "The Cynic's Dictionary," which was to be the last of his "dictionary" columns until they reappeared in 1904, when they continued erratically before finishing in July 1906. A number of the definitions are accompanied by satiric verses, many of which are signed with comic pseudonyms such as Salder Bupp and Orm Pludge; the most frequently appearing "contributor" is "that learned and ingenious cleric, Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J., whose lines bear his initials". What had started as a newspaper serialization was first reproduced in book form in 1906 under the dubious title Cynic's Word Book. Published by Doubleday, Page and Company, this contained definitions of 500 words in the first half of the alphabet (A-L). A further 500 words (M-Z) were published in 1911 in Volume 7 of The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, this time under the name of The Devil's Dictionary. This was a name much preferred by Bierce and he claimed the earlier 'more reverent' title had been forced upon him by the religious scruples of his previous employer. (wikipedia)

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