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Ambrose Bierce: Criticism and Reviews

The Internet Public Library features links to criticism of works by Ambrose Bierce

"Forked Tongue" The Language of Serpent in the Enlarged Devil's Dictionary of Ambrose Bierce. Analysis by Andrew Graham, Keele University.

The Poetry of Ambrose Bierce by Jack Matthews.

Ambrose Bierce, Master of the Macabre is a biography and review by Alan Gullette.

Additional criticism and review of Ambrose Bierce's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

Critic: Frederic Taber Cooper.
Some American Story Tellers, 1911. Reprint by Books for Libraries Press, 1968, pp. 331-53.

Taber "discusses Bierce as a critic, satirist, and short story writer."

"A Note."
Critic: Samuel Loveman.
Twenty-One Letters of Ambrose Bierce by Ambrose Bierce, edited by Samuel Loveman, George Kirk. 1922, pp. 3-5. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism, Vol. 7.

"In Bierce, the evocation of horror becomes for the first time, not so much the prescription or perversion of Poe and Maupassant, but an atmosphere definite and uncannily precise. Words, so simple that one would be prone to ascribe them to…"

In the Midst of Life.
The Athenaeum, Vol. 99, No. 3356, February 20, 1892, p. 241. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism, Vol. 7.

"Mr. Bierce's collection of American tales of horror [In the Midst of Life] is occasionally marred by extravagance of style, and some of the more terrible descriptions of solitary suffering are…"

Overview of "The Boarded Window."
Critic: Rena Korb.
Short Stories for Students, Vol. 9, The Gale Group, 2000.

"Ambrose Bierce is a well-known literary figure for many reasons. He was a man out of time; his pessimistic, cynical writings were oddly out of place in a period dominated by optimist thought; he introduced psychological studies into a literary world that valued realism and naturalism…"

"'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge': Overview."
Critic: Charles E. May.
Reference Guide to Short Fiction, 1st ed., edited by Noelle Watson, St. James Press, 1994.

"In spite of the fact that 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' seems merely a trick to shock the reader, Ambrose Bierce's tale of the man who imagines he has escaped hanging in the moment before he comes to the end of his rope is one of the most famous and frequently anthologized stories in American literature…."

"America's Neglected Satirist."
Critic: Wilson Follett.
The Dial, Vol. LXV, Chicago, July 18, 1918, pp. 49-52. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 44.

In his essay, "Follett regards Bierce as a pre-eminent modern satirist whose talent has been largely unappreciated."

"The Literary Development of California."
Critic: Gertrude Franklin Atherton.
The Cosmopolitan, Vol. X, No. 3 January, 1891, pp. 269-78. Reprinted in Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism, Vol. 7.

"(Ambrose Bierce) has the best brutal imagination of any man in the English-speaking race; his sonnets are exquisitely dainty and tender; his fables are…"

"The Bitterness of Battle: Ambrose Bierce's War Fiction."
Critic: Eric Solomon.
The Midwest Quarterly, Vol. IV, No. 2, January, 1964, pp. 147-65.

"Ambrose Bierce's short stories of war, Tales of Soldiers (1891), are vignettes of cosmic irony wherein man is brought to realize his insignificance in the face of the all-encompassing universe of war as well as the futility of all "normal" acts and aspirations…"

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