Ambrose Bierce: The Enlarged Devil’s Dictionary

November 28, 2015

51K2So37DsL._AA160_There are times when small is better… a few years ago, I was quite amused by a slim volume which was a selection from The Devil’s Dictionary; I gave in to the temptation of the full version in a second-hand bookshop, and to be honest, it was rather tedious.

The concept is an interesting one: humorous and/or cynical definitions of various words in use in our political, philosophical, literary and artistic vocabulary, but it does pall after a while. I think the real problem is that the definitions have dated, along with the style and approach: Bierce apparently disappeared in Mexico in 1913…

I also think that the idea was rather better done by the French writer Gustave Flaubert, in his Dictionary of Received Ideas, which is worth looking up if you like this sort of thing. Otherwise, stick with potted versions and don’t seek out the full feast…

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