Ambrose Bierce, 1842-1914?

Portrait
Bierce in 1892

Biographical note

American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist. Bierce employed a distinctive style of writing, especially in his stories. This style often embraces an abrupt beginning (see cold open), dark imagery, vague references to time, limited descriptions, the theme of war, and impossible events. Bierce 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. He wrote in a variety of literary genres.

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 his much-quoted book, The Devil’s Dictionary, originally an occasional newspaper item which was 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.

In 1913, Bierce traveled to Mexico to gain a firsthand perspective on that country’s ongoing revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, the elderly writer disappeared without a trace.

Works

Short story collections

Other Civil War accounts

  • What I Saw of Shiloh [1881]
  • The Battle of Nashville [1883]
  • The Crime at Pickett’s Mill [1888]
  • Four Days in Dixie [1888]
  • A Little of Chickamauga [1898]
  • On Black Soldiering [1898]
  • A Bivouac of the Dead [1903]
  • “Way Down in Alabam” [1903]
  • What Occurred at Franklin [1906]
  • On a Mountain [1909]

Poetry

Other works

© 2014 The University of Adelaide
Last Modified 25/03/2014
CRICOS Provider Number 00123M
find us on facebook

Service Charter | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer