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The Devil's Dictionary - Ambrose Bierce
Thread poster: Aurora Humarán
Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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Feb 28, 2005

I will open this thread so that we can enjoy together part of this incredible book by Bierce. As it needs to be 'metabolized' I would suggest a special dosage: word by word. Reading it otherwise, may be dangerous...

For those of you who have never read this great book or any of Bierce's prose, here goes a short introduction to the author's life.

Enjoy him!

Au



On June 24th, 1842, Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was born; he was the son of Marcus Aurelius and Laura Bierce. He was born the youngest of a large family in Megis County, Ohio, but was raised in poverty on a farm in Indiana. He grew to hate farm life, and found his way through his teenage years by engrossing himself in books and literature. When he was old enough, he left home to live with his uncle, and later attended a military academy. Bierce was at the military academy for a year, and then he dropped out. After that he worked odd jobs here and there.

[...]

In 1871 he married Mary Ellen Day, who would later have his three children (Day, born 1872, Leigh, born 1874, and Helen, born 1875), and together they moved to England in 1872. There he wrote for a few magazines, published three books ("Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California", "The Fiend's Delight", and "Cobwebs from an Empty Skull"), and edited a paper. They lived in England for four years until, in 1875, they moved back to San Francisco. Back in California Bierce wrote for the "San Francisco Examiner". He was the local satirist, and was prominent among the writers of California's "Literary Frontier".

[...]

After separating from his wife, and the deaths of two of his sons, Bierce decided to go to Mexico in 1913 to leave behind his American life. He was never heard from again. There were many rumors of his death, some believed he committed suicide, some believe he was killed in the siege of Ojinaga. The estimated date of his death is sometime in January of 1914. His death will forever remain a mystery...

Bierce will be remembered for his short stories that were usually related with death; and he will also be remembered as a great writer. His turmoil and pain brought about by events in his life brought color and a unique quality to his work. Some of his most popular writings include: "The Devil's Dictionary", "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", "Chickamauga", "Fantastic Fables", "Shapes of Clay", and "Tales of Soldiers & Civilians".


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
A Feb 28, 2005

ABORIGINIES, n.

Persons of little worth found cumbering the soil of a newly discovered country. They soon cease to cumber; they fertilize.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:58
Italian to English
One of my email signatures is... Feb 28, 2005

... a definition from the Devil's Dictionary.

Language, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary).

Cheers,

Giles
PS The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce was published in the US by The Citadel Press in 1946. A Pan Books edition came out in the UK in 1988 under the Picador Classics imprint.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
... Feb 28, 2005

Giles Watson wrote:

Language, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure



Beautiful! Thanks for quoting it!

Au


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Balaban Cerit  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 23:58
English to Turkish
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Some of my favorites Feb 28, 2005

Luminary, n.
One who throws light upon a subject; as an editor by not writing about it.

Hermit, n.
A person whose vices and follies are not sociable.

[Edited at 2005-03-01 02:32]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 16:58
SITE FOUNDER
Mausoleum Feb 28, 2005

Mausoleum, n. The final and funniest folly of the rich.

(One I like.)


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
B Feb 28, 2005

BELLADONNA, n.

In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 15:58
Partial member
Spanish
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P Mar 1, 2005

POETRY, n.
A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the Magazines.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
C Mar 1, 2005

CONGRATULATION, n.

The civility of envy.


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Piva
French to English
+ ...
One of my favorites Mar 1, 2005

Handkerchief:
A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears. The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and intrusted its duties to the sleeve. Shakespeare's introducing it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coattails in our own day – an evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward.

hehe


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
D Mar 2, 2005

DAY, n.
A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. This period is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day improper -- the former devoted to sins of business, the latter consecrated to the other sort. These two kinds of social activity overlap.

DICTIONARY, n.
A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
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E Mar 2, 2005

EDIBLE, adj.
Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.

(This is my favourite)


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:58
Member
English to Turkish
O Mar 4, 2005

I was just editing the translation of the lines below (a quote in the text I am working on right now) when I saw your thread, Aurora:


Opiate - an unlocked door in the prison of identity. It leads into the jail yard.


In or outside the context of opiates, the image of "an unlocked door in the prison of identity" is a striking one, indeed.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:58
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Hi, Xola! (nice name) Mar 4, 2005

Xola wrote:

a striking one



One of the adjectives that best describes Ambrose...

Au


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:58
Member
English to Turkish
L Mar 5, 2005

but the saddest entry is...


Love: a temporary insanity curable by marriage.




Hola, Aurora!


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