An Inhabitant of Carcosa

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"An Inhabitant of Carcosa"
AuthorAmbrose Bierce
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Short story
Media typePrint
Publication date1886

"An Inhabitant of Carcosa" is a short story by American Civil War soldier, wit, and writer Ambrose Bierce. It was first published in the San Francisco Newsletter of December 25, 1886 and was later reprinted as part of Bierce's collections Tales of Soldiers and Civilians and Can Such Things Be?[1][2]

The first-person narrative concerns a man from the ancient city of Carcosa who awakens from a sickness-induced sleep to find himself lost in an unfamiliar wilderness.


A man from the city of Carcosa, contemplating the words of the philosopher Hali concerning the nature of death, wanders through an unfamiliar wilderness. He knows not how he came there, but recalls that he was sick in bed. He worries that he has wandered out of doors in a state of insensibility. The man calms himself as he surveys his surroundings. He is aware that it is cold, though he does not exactly feel cold. He follows an ancient paved road and sees the disassembled remnants of tombstones and tombs. He comes across a lynx, an owl, and a strange man dressed in animal skins carrying a torch, who ignores the narrator. For the first time, the man becomes aware that it must be night, though he can see as clear as day. The man sits near a tree whose roots emerged from a grave. Looking at the stone that once marked that grave, he sees his name, the date of his birth, and the date of his death. He then realizes that he is dead, and is amidst the ruins of the "ancient and famous city of Carcosa."

A footnote at the end of the story states: "Such are the facts imparted to the medium Bayrolles[3] by the spirit Hoseib Alar Robardin."



  1. ^ Jess Nevins. "Fantastic Victoriana: R". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Bierce later included the same medium as a narrative device in his short story "The Moonlit Road".

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