An Ambrose Bierce Companion

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The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce: An Analysis

Many of the entries list works for further reading, and the book closes with a selected, general bibliography. Because of Bierce's concern with so many issues of his day, the volume offers a valuable perspective on American culture during the time in which he lived. Libraries Unlimited. Need Help? Try our Search Tips.

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Ambrose Bierce - Conservapedia

Blume's typical interpretation is well-illustrated here. He conceives of an ideal reader for one of Bierce's tales as someone who has read attentively, indeed nearly memorized, Bierce's journalism. Such a reader has been indoctrinated by Bierce in appropriate hermeneutic strategies. Puzzling to me is not so much the insistence on contextualizing, which is standard 21st-century critical practice, but the suggestion that Bierce offers secrets to unlock.

For Blume, reading Bierce is an initiation into esoterica.

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Readers who have been through an apprenticeship as decoders will succeed, but the master has deliberately sealed up his lore in occult packages. I don't know why a popular newspaper writer would be so intent on hiding his meanings from anyone but an acolyte.

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But Bierce was a strange man, and perhaps he was so intent. The problem in Blume's readings is that once we have unmasked the real meaning beneath the ostensible ones, there isn't all that much to show for our efforts. In the case of "A Holy Terror," for instance, the secret at the center of the tale turns out to be nothing more than an assertion that Bierce is more satirical than farcical. In readings of other tales, Blume's self-proclaimed critical incisiveness turns out to be little more than a detection of ironies see the readings of "One of the Missing, "A Tough Tussle," and "The Horseman in the Sky". On the best-known story in the collection, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," Blume's innovation is to read the death of Peyton Farquhar as occurring over a period of fifteen minutes rather than being near-instantaneous, as the story implies and most readers assume. The result is a belabored excursus on hanging and death thereby that does not materially alter any of the dramatic effect of the story.