Bile flowed in the veins of this restless moralist, who disappeared mysteriously in 1913.
His mordant definitions retain their pointed hilarity a century on. From "Kilt, n. A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and Americans in Scotland" to "Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance", Bierce will have you nodding and laughing, often simultaneously. The one thing you won't find is "Platitude, n. A jellyfish withering on the shore of thought." Ralph Stead-man's eruptive drawings embellish such definitions as "fool", "quixotic", "abnormal", "mad" and "editor".