The Everything Node version of The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce.

Warning. Some of these definitions are sexist and or racist, unfortunately. They are not the views of the noder, or likely the views of anyone at all for that matter.

Preface
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Come on, this is not offensive to anyone except those who don't get it. So he uses the n-word which many dislike.
AFRICAN, n. A nigger that votes our way.
All he's saying here is that if they're working with 'us', we'll treat them with a passible amount of respect (African), whereas if they don't, we insult (nigger). He uses the word again in:
MINSTREL, adj. Formerly a poet, singer or musician; now a nigger with a color less than skin deep and a humor more than flesh and blood can bear.
Ever seen any films of The Black and White Minstrel Show? Well, it's a load of white Welsh singers (for their voices) who are wearing a cross between war paint and sun block. Here the term nigger is used as an insult - to the people who have little talent and less entertainment value.

These are the only two times the word 'nigger' is used in the entire Devil's Dictionary..

MULATTO, n. A child of two races, ashamed of both.
Maybe this isn't so much the child who is ashamed, but both races. The child is neither fully white, and a part of everyday white, civilised society, nor fully black and part of the closely knit community who have traditionally been very closed. Add to this the fact that a white person and a black person err... did something together... and it is a reminder that the difference is very, very, very little.
NEGRO, n. The piece de resistance in the American political problem. Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to build their equation thus: "Let n = the white man." This, however, appears to give an unsatisfactory solution.
This isn't too funny, to me. But it makes a valid point. Those working out their equations start with the premise that everyone is equal (n = the white man) but then automatically ignore everyone who is not white (it is the start of every proof, where n is the set to consider).

It should be remembered that this man is sitting on the fence, poking holes in the side of everybody. He attacks Christianity in the guise of being a Christian bigot, he attacks those who write dictionaries as he writes his own. No one has been set out for special treatment, whether left out or attacked, except those who are bigots, hypocrites and have other intolerable vices.

They're not even his views, for Christ's sake!

A Satirical Work

"In these cantankerous political times, how can one not adopt a cynic's view as the only sane filter on our world, a world "spinning" out of control with the divisive hyperbole of pundits and polls. In this dictionary from the late 1800's, Ambrose Bierce skewers far more than the world of politics but it is the political realm where Bierce's observations are astonishingly and depressingly relevant a century later."¹ - Richard Gingras

Ambrose Bierce began what we now know as The Devil's Dictionary in 1881, writing a weekly half-page column in the San Francisco Wasp. Oddly enough, he began at the letter 'P', and then rambled his way through the alphabet until 1906, when the publisher Doubleday published selected portions of his column as The Cynic's Word Book - which ran from A to L. In 1911, Bierce himself completed the work, by publishing his definitions M to Z in Volume 7 of his Collected Works. The complete book has been published many times since, and comtinues to be read and appreciated today.

Despite its sometimes timeless humour and quotability, many parts of it are uncomfortable for the modern reader - it can hardly be said to be politically correct, and frequently, when dealing with non-Whites or non-Americans, his definitions may be seen as out of date and even degrading.

To fully appreciate the work, you must first understand the man himself - a highly critical journalist and observer, he cast a cynical eye on the world as he saw it. Reading it today, one should remember that those were different times indeed; The American Civil War was less than twenty years in the past when he began, and the social and political climate still nurtured many of the -ism which most of us find abhorrent today.

His redefinitions of many everyday words did make people think differently about the world, and are eminently quotable, many having made their way into the Unix program fortune. Read it with an open mind, a sense of humour and perspective, and enjoy.

http://www.alcyone.com/max/lit/devils/
http://donswa.home.pipeline.com/
¹ http://www.devilsdictionary.org/

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.