About the Book
Several hundred of Bierce's pet peeves. Bierce's list includes some distinctions still familiar today-the which-that rule, less vs. fewer, lie and lay - but it also abounds in now-forgotten shibboleths: Ovation, the critics of his time agreed, meant a Roman triumph, not a round of applause. Reliable was an ill-formed coinage, not for the discriminating. Donate was pretentious, jeopardize should be jeopard, demean meant "comport oneself," not "belittle." And Bierce made up a few peeves of his own for good measure. We should say "a coating of paint," he instructed, not "a coat."Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist, and was considered a master of pure English by his contemporaries, and virtually everything that came from his pen was notable for its judicious wording and economy of style. His short stories are held among the best of the 19th century, providing a popular following based on his roots. He wrote realistically of the terrible things he had seen in the war in such stories as An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, The Boarded Window, Killed at Resaca, and Chickamauga. In addition to his ghost and war stories, he also published several volumes of poetry. His Fantastic Fables anticipated the ironic style of grotesquerie that became a more common genre in the 20th century. One of Bierce's most famous works is the much-quoted The Devil's Dictionary, originally an occasional newspaper item, first published in book form in 1906 as The Cynic's Word Book. It consists of satirical definitions of English words which lampoon cant and political double-talk.