By Bruce Watson
Once derided as a hopeless cynic, American writer Ambrose Bierce now enjoys a high-quality literary popularity. Witty and sardonic, Bierce speaks to our personal scandal-ridden occasions. His savage Civil conflict tales became classics and his Devil's Dictionary is usually quoted. during this short biography, Bruce Watson explores the sorrow in the back of the wit, and probes Bierce's mysterious disappearance a century in the past.
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Extra resources for Ambrose Bierce. The Devil’s Cynic
Bierce’s works endure through the interest of aficionados of wit and revelers in the outré. Ask a hundred readers about him, and 95 will shrug. But the other five will have read him cover to cover. And whenever decadence flourishes, Ambrose Bierce rises to haunt the optimists. In this age of Reality TV, celebrity scandal, and kneejerk hatred of government, something like Bierce’s cynicism is again in vogue. Bierce’s aphorisms frequently pop up in newspapers or on the Web. The Ambrose Bierce Project, based at Penn State University, brings together scholars and aficionados to discuss the old cynic.
Marriage, n. ” A warning to contemporary critics: Those who rush to judge all literature by post-modern standards, branding this writer racist, that one sexist, will get no apologies from Ambrose Bierce. To call him a misogynist is telling only half the story. He liked men no more than women, and his tall tales “Oil of Dog” and “A Cargo of Cat” make recent cat-joke books seem truly domestic. Any offense given by Bierce is purely intentional. What, then, did Ambrose Bierce like? Throughout his life he liked long bicycle rides and walks beneath the redwoods, where he gathered pine cones and arrowheads.
Mollie would say the same of him, yet they were too polite to tell each other. The marriage quickly assumed a distance that was never closed. Mollie’s father gave them a wedding trip to London where Bierce embarked on a literary career, adopting the habits of the Victorian husband - drinking at the club till dawn, leaving Mollie to raise their son, Day. Throughout the marriage, he drifted in and out of range, eventually moving away, then exploding when Mollie received letters from another man. ” “Marriage, n.
Ambrose Bierce. The Devil’s Cynic by Bruce Watson