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Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914)

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Ambrose Bierce was a brilliant, bitter, and cynical journalist. He is also the author of several collections of ironic epigrams and at least one powerful story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Bierce was born in Ohio, where he had an unhappy childhood. He served in the Union army during the näytä lisää Civil War. Following the war, he moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a columnist for the newspaper the Examiner, for which he wrote a number of satirical sketches. Bierce wrote a number of horror stories, some poetry, and countless essays. He is best known, however, for The Cynic's Word Book (1906), retitled The Devil's Dictionary in 1911, a collection of such cynical definitions as "Marriage: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two." Bierce's own marriage ended in divorce, and his life ended mysteriously. In 1913, he went to Mexico and vanished, presumably killed in the Mexican revolution. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän
Image credit: Famous Americans CD-ROM & Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art)

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THE DEEP ONES: "Beyond the Wall" by Ambrose Bierce, The Weird Tradition (heinäkuu 2015)
I just bought The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce, Thing(amabrarian)s That Go Bump in the Night (tammikuu 2012)

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Ambroise Bierce was a civil war hero who survived to tell us not only what he thought of war and the people who run them, but compiled a devil's definition of a host of terms and words. He gives the cynic's description of the meaning of each entry in the book. Bierce also includes real and invented references to further clarify the scorn with which he filtered the world around him. Lots of fun, though a little knowledge of history and Bierce's life will help you get the jokes.
 
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tjrourke | 49 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 23, 2024 |
Ambrose Bierce was a journalist and a professional wit so it's sometimes difficult to reconcile his quips and his muckraking with the irrational and spiritual nature of horror, and especially his particular style of country horror. But he was a soldier in the civil war so he had seen his share of the American wilderness and of death and destruction. His dry personality is most evident when he describes ignorant yokel characters using highfalutin language.
But there is still something inexplicably natural and essential in his prose that I love. He created scenes and atmospheres that were both natural and unnatural, or perhaps in a way proto-natural, evoking ancient places and forces that even Manifest Destiny shouldn't disturb. Bierce had the ability to channel the superstitious cowboy that must exist in all of us, expressing frontier wisdom through ghost stories. "Don't go near that gulch! Lemme tell you about some buckaroos who went near that gulch, they were eaten by a ghost."… (lisätietoja)
 
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ethorwitz | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 3, 2024 |
This was another case of well-written and an interesting idea well executed, but not one that significantly piqued my interest. I think I get why so many people love it and understand that its impact is somewhat lessened for me from when it was written.

I'd be lying if my hatred of pro-slavery scum, execution, and any kind of revelling in the death and suffering of even the worst people didn't effect my ability to connect with the story or care about just how clever the use of language and allusions are (some of it is very on the nose to be honest).… (lisätietoja)
 
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RatGrrrl | 14 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 20, 2023 |
Ambrose Bierce was an American civil war veteran, journalist and short story writer. This selection of 24 of his stories was first published in 1909. I read it because of its inclusion on some proto science fiction lists, but really the stories would fit more easily into the genres of horror or supernatural stories. As I started reading through the collection I was impressed with Bierce's ability to set the scene; here is an example:

"The day, I thought, must be far advanced, though the sun was invisible; and although sensible that the air was raw and chill my consciousness of that fact was rather mental than physical—I had no feeling of discomfort. Over all the dismal landscape a canopy of low, lead-colored clouds hung like a visible curse. In all this there were a menace and a portent—a hint of evil, an intimation of doom. Bird, beast, or insect there was none. The wind sighed in the bare branches of the dead trees and the gray grass bent to whisper its dread secret to the earth; but no other sound nor motion broke the awful repose of that dismal place."

I was disappointed that some of the stories did not progress much further than a description of events, there seemed to be no resolution. Many of them read like ghost stories, almost all of them feature a death of some kind, but the quality of the writing and my realisation that Bierce was intent on providing a disturbing story for the reader to consider and wonder if "[Can such things be?]" was enough to keep me reading. A typical example is the final story in the collection; a group of would be settlers are pushing through some hostile Indian country and have camped for the night. A man appears out of the darkness and tells the group a story of four men who were run to ground by a band of apaches nearby. There were no survivors and the storyteller quietly slips away, leaving the group of settlers wondering if they had just seen a ghost.

I enjoyed the stories the more I read through them, not expecting resolutions, but content to enjoy the feeling of strange things afoot. Of course some of the stories work better than others, but most manage to create an eerie atmosphere even if a suspension of belief is required. When these stories were written in the late nineteenth century, spiritualism was still considered by many to be part of everyday life; scientific investigations and debunkers of fraud had not yet convinced the general public that ghosts and the supernatural were not prevalent. Bierce honed in on this wave of uncertainty and belief in the supernatural; to create his disturbing stories, which can still be enjoyed today 3.5 stars.
… (lisätietoja)
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baswood | 5 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 17, 2023 |

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