A new and beautifully illustrated collection of bitter, biting definitions to celebrate the centenary of The Devil’s Dictionary
Ambrose Bierce’s classic The Devil’s Dictionary first appeared in its entirety in 1911. Its caustic wit and arch tone have ensured steady popularity and sales to this day. To mark its centennial, Rhoda Koenig gives us a new version of Bierce’s mordant vision. Its myriad definitions, like the original’s, individually expose hypocrisy, pretension, and vanity and collectively paint a mocking portrait of society at its worst. More than just a denunciation of jargon or political correctness, it lambasts old and young, rich and poor, male and female, left and right, and takes them all down a peg—or three. It deals with classic subjects but also defines new ideas and explicates new usages from “academia” to “teamwork” to “women’s magazine.” Among the many definitions inside:
accessible, adj. (1) Of a subject, one that can be approached by the most intellectually handicapped, aided by the ramp of banality and the guardrail of diminished vocabulary. (2) Of a woman, a nice way of putting it.
collectible, n. Object which many are eager to possess, though it may not be attractive, entertaining, or useful. Not to be confused with “spouse.”
If you relish moral criticism of immoral behavior, The New Devil’s Dictionary will leave you howling for more.
Rhoda Koenig was born in New York City, where she was for many years the book reviewer of New York magazine. She has written for Harper’s, The New York Times, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and Vogue. She lives in London, where she has written social commentary and book, art, and theater reviews for many publications, including The Independent, The New Statesman, The Spectator, The Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, and Private Eye.
Peter Breese’s illustrations and artwork have appeared in a variety of publications, including Spectrum 18, They Draw & Cook, Me: In focus, Covet, and Ballad Of. His work has been exhibited in galleries in Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Ann Arbor, and Key West, and his clients range from fashion boutiques to Hollywood stars. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife and two children.
“A witty and mordant compendium of brickbats and bon mots … refreshingly no-nonsense … a bracing bit of whimsy … an assorted and sundry admixture of sharp wit and woebegone drollery
… All-encompassing … Ambitious and devilishly addictive … An inspired and audacious accomplishment.” —BlogCritics Books
“Ambrose Bierce’s original Devil’s Dictionary defined basic truths in such a way as to surprise, shock, infuriate, and, not infrequently, delight his readers. Rhoda Koenig’s wonderful reprise attains that high standard again and again.”
—John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
“Bracing, provoking, often brilliant—I ran from one entry to another and was constantly amused and amazed.”
—David Denby, author of Snark
“So smart and mordant it must be read slowly and savored. A great idea, brilliantly executed.”
—Andrew Holleran, author of Dancer from the Dance
“The new devil in Rhoda Koenig’s entertaining dictionary attacks with the same ferocious wit, cutting insight, sulfurous humor, and hilarious pessimism as that of the first.”
—Nicholas von Hoffman, author of Citizen Cohn
“Provocative, engaging, laugh-out-loud funny. A sublime satire.”
—Chris Ver Wiel, author of Starbucks Nation
“Fine, bracing stuff delivered with wit and bile.”
—Nik Cohn, author of Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom
“The New Devil’s Dictionary brilliantly matches Ambrose Bierce’s original in wit, candor, and black humor.”—Andrew Shaffer, author of Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love