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Posted by on Jan 10, 2007 in At TMV | 5 comments

Literary Quote of the Day: Ambrose Bierce

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Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) was a brilliant but underappreciated American author and journalist who had a long and tumultuous relationship with press baron William Randolph Hearst. He also was a misanthrope possibly without peer.

“The Devil’s Dictionary� (1911) is a satirical “dictionary� written by Bierce that offers reinterpretations of the English language that lampoon cant and political double-talk. It has inspired many imitations.

The following definition is a favorite of mine, and I always had a framed enlargement of it on my desk or office wall over the many years that I was a newspaper editor:

EDITOR (noun): A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.

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