...I consider anybody a twerp who hasnt read the greatest American short story, which is Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce. It isnt remotely political. It is a flawless example of American genius, like Sophisticated Lady by Duke Ellington or the Franklin stove. (Kurt Vonnegut -- 2005)
DEFINITIVE AMBROSE BIERCE SITE ORIGINAL ART, FICTION, DRAMA, ESSAYS SINCE 1996
The field was too small for his genius. -- Gertrude Atherton
I think; therefore, I think I am.
BIERCE: Civil War
Bierce debate in audio
Wired for Books
Dark Party Review
A Fiend's Delight (1872)
The Ambrose Bierce Site invites original articles, fiction, poetry, art
related to the mind and myth of Ambrose Bierce.
Email editor Don Swaim:
Bierce as adapted from the artist Sanjin Masic of Sarajevo and used with his permission.
More of Sanjin's art HERE
AMBROSE BIERCE NOMINATED FOR POSTHUMOUS
NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATUREGene Weingarten of The Washington Post is only partially kidding about the Prize -- as he writes about Bierce's prescience when, in 1871, he denounced the confusion regarding "literally" vs. "figuratively." Read Weingarten's column HERE.____________
by Leon Day
Once upon a time, there was a brave soldier. His specialty was going in front of the Union armies with small units and making maps and sketches of the tricky spots on the proposed route, under fire. But he is not famous for this.
San Francisco Bulletin, March 24, 1920
__________________This painting and twenty-four black and white sketches by Eckhardt are included in a limited edition of some of Bierce's best work: Masters of the Weird Tale, published by Centipede Press. The book is signed by Eckhardt and S.T. Joshi, who wrote the introduction. Limited to 200 copies in slipcase.
ARCHIVE OF BIERCE LETTERS FETCHES $37,000 AT AUCTION
The thirteen letters, dated July 6, 1898, through September 29, 1913, were penned to Bierce's friend Silas Orrin Howes, editor of Bierce's 1909 essay collection, The Shadow on the Dial.
click to enlarge and read
Of particular interest is the last letter in which Bierce writes of his plans to go to Mexico via Texas: "...thence down to the Mexican border (perhaps at Laredo) seeking a chance to cross and be shot or hanged. For I hold to my project of going through Mexico on horseback -- an 'innocent by-stander' in the war. Adios -- God prosper you."
AMBROSE BIERCE COMPLETE WORKS[not]
published by Delphi ClassicsDelphi Classics, which produces digital versions of books in the public domain, has released an illustrated compendium of both major and obscure work by Ambrose Bierce, along with letters, criticism, and Carey McWilliams' classic 1929 biography, which has never been improved upon. This massive digital book, at 4,228 pages, is available in Kindle and ePub formats directly from the Delphi Store or from Amazon.com. Delphi is offering it at $1.49, Amazon at $1.99. The Delphi site is HERE
From DON SWAIM: Sorry, but this is not The Complete Works of Ambrose Bierce. It's a scan of what's commonly available on the Internet, a fraction of what Bierce actually wrote. However, at less than two bucks, who can complain? Go for it. Bierce's work is so monumental that, according to historian S.T. Joshi, it would amount to 72 volumes of published material, not yet online. While the Delphi book is searchable, one won't find references to epigrams erroneously attributed to Bierce such as, "The covers of this book are too far apart." or "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."____________
AMBROSE BIERCE IN THE 21st CENTURY
Yes, he'd be a REPUBLICAN!
The following Bierce doggerel may not be what it seems:
Here lies the body of the Republican Party;
Corrupt, and generally speaking, hearty.
In Bierce's day, the Republican Party was the "good" party. It ended slavery, preserved the union, created national parks, and manifested reforms against vested interests that favored the rich over the poor. To his credit, Bierce fought in the Civil War on the winning side, that of the Republicans. Indeed, it was the "good" party, the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, after all. By the late twentieth century, Republicans and Democrats reversed their values by 360 degrees, and the concept of today's Republicans as being the "good" party is remote.
In current parlance, Bierce might be considered a libertarian, although if his cynicism is taken seriously, he was skeptical of newness and change, including the telephone, the camera, the phonograph, modern novels, and most music — although he embraced the typewriter. He was convinced man would never fly (and might have even swallowed the tenuous notion that climate change is a hoax). He opposed Prohibition and women's suffrage. However, unlike most of today's Republicans (and a smaller majority of Democrats), he would never accept the dubious notion of an Almighty.
Would he have supported George W. Bush's ruinous invasion of Iraq, as many otherwise intelligent people did? Hard to say, but Bierce would have loved the damned fight. Unlike his jingoistic employer, William Randolph Hearst, Bierce's support of the Spanish-American War was muted, and he did not help to light, as he put it, "patriotism's altar fires." And, a century later, would he have embraced a disastrous presidency like George W. Bush's that would wreck the U.S. economy for generations?
Bierce was facile and superficial regarding politics. He preferred to outrage rather than inform. He reported on enough corruption by the early railroad interests — "the railrogues" — that he actually suggested nationalizing the rails. No one will ever know what he truly believed. Perhaps he never knew himself.
Unfortunately, his libertarian instincts would make Bierce more likely to be a Republican than a Democrat today, even though the current Republican Party is not one sympathetic to intellectuals, academics, or the artistic and literary community. Still, despite his pig-headed notions, Bierce was an equal-opportunity cynic and his moral compass was usually in the right direction — even if his politics were anomalous. —DS
EDITOR MEETS "THE MASTER"Composite illustration by K.A. Silva pictures Don Swaim, who edits The Ambrose Bierce Site, and Ambrose Bierce in the library of William Randolph Hearst's Castle, San Simeon, California. Note the incongruity of the ornate cross behind Bierce. click to enlarge
Drawing of Ambrose Bierce © Matthew & Eve Levine 2012.
Limited edition prints and licensing opportunities available through D. Levine Ink.
The great Mexican author -- and diplomat -- Carlos Fuentes (right), who died in Mexico City on May 15, 2012, at the age of eighty-three, published some twenty books. But for Ambrose Bierce fans he'll always be known for Old Gringo, in which the fictional Bierce is caught up in a love triangle in revolutionary Mexico. In the film version, Bierce was portrayed by Gregory Peck, Jimmy Smits as one of Pancho Villa's generals, and Jane Fonda as the love interest. Ambrose Bierce Site founder Don Swaim interviewed Fuentes in 1992: LISTEN. For the unedited interview from Wired for Books listen HERE
Don Swaim's definitive article, "Ambrose & Henry," is in the spring 2011 edition of the online scholarly publication Menckeniana, all about H.L. Mencken, published by the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore. To read the actual issue go to: Menckeniana. Courtesy Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore.
HE NEVER SAID IT!
War is Gods way of teaching Americans geography.
This quote attributed to Ambrose Bierce has been knocking around the Internet for years. [Google shows 860,000 entries for it.] Ive never found the origin for War is Gods way of teaching Americans geography, nor has David E. Schultz, who along with S.T. Joshi, has created a voluminous database of Bierces works. In 2002, Schultz told The Ambrose Bierce Site: Ive looked high and low through my electronic archive of Bierces writings (c. 4.5 million words) and have never come across this. Ive found numerous attributions to Bierce on the Web, but believe that Paul Rodriguez [Mexican-born stand-up comedian] is probably the originator. Its one of those quotes that sounds like Bierce but isnt. D.S.
PS. Also, I don't believe Bierce ever said, "The covers of this book are too far apart." If he did, I've never found the source, nor the name of the book to which he allegedly referred. The line is often repeated as it's a given that Bierce concocted that devastating put-down, but even if he didn't it's too good a line not to award it to Bierce. —DS
Ambrose Bierce Site Founder Wins
Pearl S. Buck International Short Story Award
Don Swaim, founder of the Ambrose Bierce Site, won first prize for his short story, "Dearest Friend, Annie," which focuses on the relationship between Walt Whitman and Anne Gilchrist. Three others placed in the youth division. Swaim [above] is shown accepting the award under a portrait of Pearl S. Buck at the historic Buck house on April 10, 2011. Buck, author of The Good Earth, won the Nobel Prize for literature, and her Pennsylvania, home is a National Historic Landmark. Pearl S. Buck International
AVOID ANSWERS.COM AS AN ACCURATE SOURCE FOR BIERCE
1. Bierce is NOT best known as the author of A Fiend's Delight.
2. Bierce did NOT "establish his reputation" with A Fiend's Delight and Cobwebs from an Empty Skull.
3. A Fiend's Delight and Cobwebs from an Empty Skull are NOT novels.
4. Bierce did NOT work "off and on" for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. He was employed steadily by Hearst from 1887 through 1908.
5. Bierce was NOT known for his "legendary carousing" with Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken. He is thought to have had, at the most, two personal meetings with Twain, one known (perhaps a few others) with Mencken.
Who supplies the wrong answers at Answers.com? DS
Five Questions About: Ambrose Bierce
DaRK PaRTY ReVIEW, a Boston-based online literary magazine, queries Bierce Site webmaster Don Swaim about the life and disappearance of the legendary curmudgeon.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE AMBROSE BIERCE APPRECIATION SOCIETY?
The Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society was, presumably, the first Bierce site on the Internet: 1994. It is now moribund, yet, incredibly, still scores high in Google's Bierce rankings -- although it has not been updated for many years, and is in most respects obsolete. Apparently, its last update was in 2005 or early 2006.
In May, 2010, I sought out the once enthusiastic founder of the Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society, "Damone," the pseudonym of Michael N. Rusignuolo, a fellow New Yorker. Michael apparently attended Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and his last known address was on West 20th Street, New York City. He once hosted a website dedicated to Conan O'Brien [a TV talk show host]. After many attempts, I finally reached Mr. Rusignuolo (Damone) by email and, while he was not particularly forthcoming, here is his reply:Don, I apologise for not writing back sooner. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but I suppose the short version is that "life got in the way." Things changed, priorities shifted, tragedies occurred, etc. etc. I certainly still have all my Bierce materials and still add the odd bits and pieces here and there, but a few years ago, certain events occurred that prevented me from devoting too much time to the hobby, and the longer I spent away, the more time it would take to catch up, and it all began to snowball.A pity that "life got into the way." Mr. Rusignuolo's Bierce site was, in fact, a prototype for The Ambrose Bierce Site (1996), although the AB Site went into a far different direction by focusing on original material. —DS
It all still sits as an item "to do," but at this point, the Web technologies I used are so obsolete as to require a complete rebuild of the site to make it more database driven so as to make updates easier and the like. And the time is more precious now than then. I still hope to find a stretch of time to devote to the project, but things continue to come up. It seems the way of things.
I certainly apologise if I was unresponsive on an invitation at some point in the past. It was surely not my intension to do so, and I beg ignorance in the subsequent passage of time.
I hope this finds you well, and I hope that you have been more successful in finding the time to update your own Web effort better than I have.
The Ambrose Bierce Site invites original articles, fiction, poetry, art
related to the mind and myth of Ambrose Bierce.
click to buy