Talk:Ambrose Bierce

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Appearances in literature[edit]

If I recall correctly, Bierce made a significant appearance in one of Bradbury's tales, which I think should be mentioned here, but I don't have the book on hand at the moment. I'll try to remember to come back and add it when I have the reference, unless someone beats me to it. KathL 08:34, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Also, Bierce is a major character in Peter King's series of books about Jack London, though I've forgotten which of his books those were. Although I believe one was called the Jewel of the North. Caelicoli 08:04, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Jack Finney[edit]

In Jack Finney’s short story “Of Missing Persons” (1955), Ambrose Bierce is mentioned as having migrated to Verna, the planet located “light years away” (par. 51). The travel agent, who is about to sell a prospective client a ticket to Verna, explains about their branch in Mexico City which opened in nineteen thirteen: “Ambrose Bierce joined us that year, or the next. He lived until nineteen thirty-one, a very old man, and wrote four more books, which we have.” (par. 68). This information, I think, should be included in this article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:40, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

List of Short Stories[edit]

The list of short stories is unbelievably incomplete. (For example: it lists some stories from Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, but not even close to all of them. In fact, it doesn't even include some of the stories mentioned elsewhere in the article.) Whether or not it should even be included is likely debatable, but I'll take a shot at expanding it when I get home and can get access to my volume of his collected fiction. (Of course, the question then becomes: does Fantastic Fables count as a collection of short stories or not?) 18:34, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

I think on the whole you're right that the list doesn't belong in the article; a bibliography is all that's needed. I assume that that's what "Primary books" is meant to be; could that just be renamed "Bibliography" or "Publications", and the list of short stories removed? --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 16:43, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
It would have to be expanded a bit from its current state, but I think that would work. Since I never got around to doing the short stories list, I'll get on that now. g026r 02:23, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Hrm. Turns out I'm missing publication dates on some books: The Monk & the Hangman's Daughter (although I believe this one is either 1891 or 1892. It was first serialised in '91, before it was published as a book.), and Fantastic Fables. I also am missing information on whether The Parenticide Club, and Negligible Tales were ever published as individual works, or only as parts of the various collected works. g026r 02:30, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, totally incomplete, and not required in this article. The bibliography and list of works is fine. Trying to list every short story (horror, war and tall tale), is ridiculuous. If it needs to be included, at all, it should be its own page, not on the main Bierce page. HæSúsê 18:54, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Let's just include the short stories at Wikisource. As you've said, all we need here is a bibliography that lists some anthologies. Galanskov 13:07, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure if I'm using this page correctly. I have two issues:

1) What is the meaning of the dates listed after some of the short stories? Clearly it can't mean the year of writing or first publication, as in many cases the date is much later than the publication date of the collection in which the story appeared.

2) Under "Literary Movement", "Realism" is listed when clearly Bierce's tales are fantastic, not to mention the fact that THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY defines Realism as something like "reality as observed by toads". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:16, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

I removed all short story names except titles that link to Wikipedia pages providing more information about specific stories. I also arranged short stories by genre and by date. I will double-check the dates against Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources by Joshi and Schultz to provide the dates of first publication. Vince Emery 18:33, 17 April 2017 (UTC)

Short story publication dates have been checked and fixed. I also added a citation explaining the source for the dates.Vince Emery 23:16, 17 April 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vinceemery (talkcontribs)

Railroad Refinancing Bill[edit]

I don't have the details or a reference at hand, but when Bierce was a relatively young man he was sent from California to Washington, DC, by his publisher to oppose the Railroad Refinancing Bill, a daring piece of larceny by which the railroads which had been given large chunks of land from the public domain to finance the construction of transcontinental rail lines--on condition of paying for it as a loan, on very favorable terms--tried to have the repayment postponed exactly a hundred years. A crucial element of this plot was secrecy: the bill was to be voted on without any public mention of its contents. Bierce's main effort, therefore, was to make the bill public knowledge. He did, and forced the defeat of the bill. J S Ayer 03:03, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

If I recall correctly, an episode, perhaps this one, is described in Richard O'Connor's Ambrose Bierce: a Biography. Bierce thereby earned the hatred, I believe, of Collis P. Huntington. If someone has the time to look the incident up, it would be well worth adding to the section on Bierce's journalism career. logologist|Talk 08:50, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Short Stories- Descriptions[edit]

The list of short stories is ok but there are only descriptions to only a few, quite sad really. "The death of halpin Frayser" is a wonderful short story, as well as "The Damned Thing" These are his most popular stories, yet the only remotely popular story with a description is "Moxon's Master" Maybe I or someone else could fill in some of the more important blanks. Just a thought. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Hewhoisiam (talkcontribs) 14:52, 16 January 2007 (UTC).

Dod Grile?[edit]

Who was Dod Grile? Is this a pen name? Bastie 11:01, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Dod Grile (or Dog Rile) was a facetious pseudonym used by Bierce (he used a few others in the same vein).

A list of these pseudonyms would probably be useful to the article. Bastie (talk) 18:00, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Bierce's fate in Mexico?[edit]

  • See Dale Walker's "Legends and Lies Great Mysteries of the Old West" {1997} {reference only}

The Battle of Tierra Blanca was fought in November 1913 but the article suggests that he entered Mexico in December 1913 - is this an error? Drutt (talk) 10:25, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Since there is no convincing evidence that Bierce ever went to Mexico, I believe that stating he was last seen in Chihuahua is premature conjecture. We know for certain only that he parted company with Ms. Christiansen in Washington, DC, and this location should be listed in the vital data section. I have made the necessary change. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:29, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Bierce in London[edit]

Should this not read that, "For health reasons Bierce traveled to London, where he befriended literary greats, not to befriend them? Current edit presupposes that he befriends them for aid in his health, I believe. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:05, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Moving OR or opinion to Talk[edit]

This is OR or opinion of contributor - moving here to Talk.

"But beyond that, the compression of time that is the most stunning aspect of the story has been exploited in countless movies. Terry Gilliam's Brazil is only the most celebrated example."

-- (talk) 12:42, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, good call. Beyond the fact that it is an opinion, I am not even sure that the statement makes sense. What "compression of time" is he talking about, and why is Terry Gilliam's Brazil "the most celebrated example"? Utter nonsense. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 15:25, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Problem with Logan Circle[edit]

The picture of Bierce's residence in Washington DC is of 18 Logan (formerly Iowa) Circle, I've seen this address mentioned in many places as one of Bierce's many DC addresses, and I'm not saying that he did not live at this address, BUT the problem is, this particular building was build in 1914, one year after Bierce left DC never to return. Click on the picture for details. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:52, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

"cold open" vs "in medias res" in lede[edit]

I thought cold open referred to motion pictures and video when the story begins before any titles or credits. Is this lede saying Bierce's stories began before the title? Isn't the correct literary term in medias res? Tom Reedy (talk) 18:10, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

"Skeptic Joe Nickell"[edit]

Why are the speculations of "Skeptic Joe Nickell" included in the body text of this biographical article? He did not at all figure in the personal life of his subject, did he? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:27, 25 December 2011 (UTC)

Day Bierce's Death[edit]

The original text stated that Day Bierce was killed in a 'brawl' over a woman -- in fact he committed suicide. I have emended the text and provided a correct citation. The 'Floyd' source is perhaps not the best one to bear so many vital details (some of them spurious, evidently). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:01, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

The date was "January 11, 1914" listed at the top of this article as the date of death. I followed the link that is cited for this date, but that page does not include any such date. It only claims that he died circa 1914. This is supported by the rest of the text of the article. Nobody knows what day he died, or even what year. (talk) 18:13, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

Notable works[edit]

I've restructured the list to be in chronological order. I've also added "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" to the list. Its been included in several major "all-time greatest fantasy story" lists, and I think the Carcosa article does a credible job of establishing its wide-spread influence. It's possible that in terms of sheer influence this has proven to be his most enduring piece. — Preceding unsigned comment added by S Luke (talkcontribs) 17:05, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Everything that came from his pen? Stop it.[edit]

"Bierce was considered a master of pure English by his contemporaries, and virtually everything that came from his pen was notable for its judicious wording and economy of style."

This statement is hyperbolic, ridiculous, and false. Anyone who describes the prose of Ambrose Bierce as "notable for its judicious wording and economy of style" has not read much beyond the two or three short stories which assured his place in American Literature. His style can be more accurately described as pompous and stilted. It has an affectation that shows him to be self-conscious about his lack of formal education, always reaching for a fifty-cent word when the more common and solid word would serve.

I have before me an edition of The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce, over 800 pages, and yes, I have read them all. The half-dozen brilliant Civil War stories glow brightly like hot coals among the piles of grey (or should I say purple) ashes that make up the bulk of his work. The book contains some of the most dreadful rubbish ever to see print. When cleared of the hack work and writing that was obviously done only for pay, the portion that may rightly be said to have lasting value could be contained in less than 50 pages.

Bierce's value as a writer will be that he was one of the few, if not the only writer who saw action in battle during the war and was able, in a few rare flashes, to render his experience in stunning visual prose. The remainder of his mysteries, horror stories, tall tales and "poetry" are without value and will be forgotten.

SamJohn2013 (talk) 01:44, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

You mostly describe it as a matter of personal opinion, which is not by itself a valid reason to delete or change anything in Wikipedia content, but I do agree that the paragraph is currently full of unreferenced peacock and weasel words and must be thoroughly rewritten by somebody who can cross-reference it with reliable books about literature. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 08:34, 11 July 2015 (UTC)

(Hearst) did not reveal Bierce as the author of the poem and didn't fire him[edit]


The article says about Bierce's poem about Goebel, that [Hearst] did not reveal Bierce as the author of the poem and didn't fire him.

I checked the source - Morris, Roy (1999) [1995]. Ambrose Bierce: alone in bad company p. 237. It is easily findable on Google Books.

From reading the page, I cannot see that Bierce's name was secret, although it does say that Hearst didn't fire him.

Am I misunderstanding something, or is the article wrong? --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 19:39, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

I found the page here. The citation should read pp. 236-237. It doesn't say what paper it appeared in, except to say "The Journal", of February 1900. Another source says February 4 of that year. Nothing to say that Bierce's name was unknown to the public. How were his pieces signed? Dhtwiki (talk) 06:06, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Dhtwiki, thanks for verifying.
I don't know, unfortunately, how were they signed. Is there an archive of old American newspapers?
In the meantime, I removed it. --Amir E. Aharoni (talk) 15:59, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
The new wording looks fine to me. I checked for archives of newspapers (especially San Francisco Examiner), but the holding only went back to 1902, and that's for the San Francisco library. Dhtwiki (talk) 22:37, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Ambrose Bierce/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Looks like a fairly complete treatment, with references, though citations for individual facts are not given. Yksin 01:13, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Last edited at 01:13, 24 February 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 07:31, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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Link works and seems possibly useful. Dhtwiki (talk) 20:18, 11 October 2016 (UTC)

Rewrote introduction[edit]

I made a number of changes to the introduction. Two problems needed correcting:

  1. There was a major overuse of quotes. Of the three examples of overuse from WP:QUOTE, points two and three particularly applied:
    1. a quotation is used without pertinence: it is presented visually on the page, but its relevance is not explained anywhere
    2. quotes are used to explain a point that can also be paraphrased
    3. the quotes dominate the article or section
  1. The previous read as overly sympathetic to the subject of the article, indeed verging on hagiographic. As well as quotes being overused in general, the lead also contained numerous instances of text reproduced from sources without being clearly attributed. For example, A prolific writer of "astounding versatility,"[11]. The person saying "astounding versatility" must be named; from WP:QUOTE, Attribution should be provided in the text of the article, not exclusively in a footnote or citation. A reader should not have to follow a footnote to learn who authored the quote. In this particular case there was no need to even use a quotation. He can be described as versatile straightforwardly enough.

Hence, rewritten. (talk) 12:55, 17 June 2017 (UTC)