Terror by Night summary æ 108

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Terror by Night summary æ 108 ó Nothing is so improbable as what is true' Of all the writers of ghost and horror stories Ambrose Bierce is perhaps the most colourful He was a dark cynical and pessimistic soul who had a grim vision of fate and the unfairness of life which he channelled into his fiction And in his death or rather his disappearance he crNothing is so improbable as what is true' Of all the writers of ghost and horror stories Ambrose Bierce is perhaps the most colourful He was a dark cynical and pessimistic soul who had a grim vision of fate and the unfairness of life which he channelled into his fiction And in his death or rather his disappearance he created a mystery as strange and unresolved as any that he penned himself But of that later Ambrose Gwinett Bierce was born i. Wordsworth Editions published in London has a wonderful thing going with its current series entitled Tales of Mystery the Supernatural bringing back into print short story collections and full length novels from such relatively unknown authors as Gertrude Atherton Edith Nesbit DK Broster Marjorie Bowen May Sinclair and Dennis Wheatley The imprint's collection of horror tales from Ohio born Ambrose Bierce is a very satisfying and generous one gathering 51 of the author's shuddery pieces out of the 90 or so from his complete oeuvre Bierce never wrote any longer pieces calling the novel in typically cynical fashion a short story padded Bierce who was born in 1842 and died mysteriously most likely in Mexico around 1914 wrote tales that have been elsewhere divided into three categories Tales of Horror Tall Tales and Tales of the Civil War in which he fought with distinction on the Union side But these three loose categories don't tell the full story; his most famous short piece for example An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge while certainly being a tale of war is also undeniably a psychological horror story Indeed a reader of this volume will uickly discern at least eight types of Bierce tales therein; on that in a moment All the stories in this collection display an extremely fine polish as regards writing techniue some of the tales may even be accused of being overwritten and a cynical often merciless worldview The author was not nicknamed Bitter Bierce for nothing and there is absolutely no way for the reader to predict whether or not any character be it man woman or child will suffer a horrible fate As no less a critic than HP Lovecraft wrote of Bierce's writing in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature There is in it a rare strain of sardonic comedy and graveyard humour and a kind of delight in images of cruelty and tantalising disappointment And as David Stuart Davies mentions in his well written and informative intro to this edition His stories invariably turn on these strange and often heart stopping twists of fate twists that are calculated to shock and shake the reader out of a comfortable complacencyAs to those eight types of tales found in this volume by far the most commonly encountered is the Ghost Tale such as A Baby Tramp in which a mother's ghost lures its baby son on a cross country pilgrimage; The Moonlit Road a murderous tale told from three vantages including the dead wife; The Middle Toe of the Right Foot in which another murdered wife little love is lost in these grisly Bierce stories takes a hideous vengeance; and Staley Fleming's Hallucination which features what may be literature's earliest canine ghost Then there are the purely Supernatural Tales such as The Spook House with its unescapable room filled with corpses; A Wireless Message in which a man sees his wife's flaming doom from 1000 miles away; and John Bartine's Watch with its accursed timepiece Of course there are the Civil War Tales and if Occurrence is the best known of the six presented here it is not alone in uality One of the Missing tells of the terrible plight of a Union soldier who is trapped beneath the wreckage of a bombarded building; Chickamauga describes the outcome of that horrible battle through the eyes of a 6 year old boy; and Three and One Are One The Affair at Coulter's Notch and The Mocking Bird all tell ironic tales of how the war divided families and turned son against father husband against wife and brother against brother And speaking of horrible what I refer to as Bierce's purely Horrible Doings is the fourth category here; tales that tell of characters visited by truly horrendous fates The Man Out of the Nose tells of the tragic end that a married man's love affair brings about; The Applicant tells the sorry story of a poor old man on Christmas Eve; A Holy Terror gives us a gold prospector violating the grounds in a deserted cemetery; and The Eyes of the Panther tells of how a tragedy involving a wildcat has a far reaching psychological impact on a woman later on Then there are what I suppose one might call Strange Doings; tales many of them short shorts that make you scratch your head and go Wha In The Difficulty of Crossing a Field An Unfinished Race and Charles Ash's Trail men mysteriously vanish without a trace; in John Mortonson's Funeral a hungry feline interrupts a man's mourning family; and in An Adventure at Brownville an opera singer seemingly has a murderous effect on women Bierce also wrote what may be regarded as two Science Fiction Tales and they are both doozies Moxon's Master featuring a nasty tempered chess playing automaton and The Damned Thing with its invisible field dwelling creatures The seventh category here is Tales of Murder of which An Imperfect Conflagration is a perfect example; here a man casually murders both his parents to possess himself of a music box Well at least he had a good reason Finally there are the Unclassifiable Tales; stories that are difficult to synopsize much less describe In Haita the Shepherd a lad learns a hard lesson about the essence of happiness; in The Night Doings at 'Deadman's' a man sits in a shanty waiting for the ghost of a Chinaman whose braid he cut off; in The Death of Halpin Frayser a man walks through a forest that is dripping with blood to meet the spirit of his dead motherAs you can see a wide assortment of story types plots and settings Most of the stories here are concise to the point of terseness; only two stories are longer than 10 pages and many barely fill two Elegantly written by a master wordsmith and filled with concisely etched characters and backdrops there is certainly not much in the way of padding Brilliantly cynical as would be expected from the man who gave the world The Devil's Dictionary the tales presented here often provoke a guffaw in the middle of a shudder Bottom line All readers who have not yet had the pleasure of encountering this true master of the art should certainly pounce

Ambrose Bierce ç 8 review

N a log cabin on 21st June 1842 in Horse Creek Meigs County Ohio USA He was the tenth of thirteen children ten of whom survived infancy His father an unsuccessful farmer with an unseemly love of literature had given all the Bierce children names beginning with 'A' There was Abigail the eldest; then Amelia Ann Addison Aurelius etc So oddness was a part of Bierce's life from the beginning Poverty and religion of the extreme variety were the t. It took me a while to finish this one and I even took uite a long break from reading it because of the utter lameness of some stories but all in all there were some purely brilliant ones in there and I think Bierce's work should be considered from the perspective of historical significance above all else

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Terror by NightWo chief influences on young Ambrose's childhood He not only hated this period of his life he also developed a deep hatred for his family and this is reflected in some of his stories which depict families preying on and murdering one another For example the unforgettable opening sentence of 'An Imperfect Conflagration' seems to sum up his bitter attitude 'Early in 1872 I murdered my father an act that made a deep impression on me at the tim. Ghosts and haunted houses dying Civil War soldiers and attacking beasts things unseen and terrors imagined this volume collects 51 of Ambrose Bierce's short stories It's not an imprint which you pick up for its own sake but rather because it's the Bierce collection closest at hand The introduction is adeuate but awkwardly written and hardly comprehensive; the collection itself is not all of Bierce's short fiction and the arrangement is adeuate—never poor or jarring and sometimes aiding the flow between stories It isn't a volume that I recommend outright but if it does happen to be the Bierce collection closest at hand then do pick it up—because Bierce is worth reading He's a deceptively simple writer his tone is straightforward and his penchant for twist endings can grow predictable and the danger of a collection may grow repetitive as well but in that straightforwardness hides understatement Dry wit insightful irony startling human perception and no lack of horror—some human some otherworldly all of it crossing the boundary between the two in the impact it has on those involved—are all presented in a bare style that mimics simplicity but is actually skillful subtlety Bierce's dark humor is delightful and his horror is both intriguing and chilling both as fearful pleasure and something outright unsettlingFor all of this Bierce is not my new favorite short fiction author in part because I do find his twist endings repeditive in part because not all of his themes—family issues and human folly ghosts and the Civil War—appeal to my own personal interests But his voice and style do appeal to me and as they are short finely crafted and often intriguing I found Bierce's stories both addicting and supremely satisfying and enjoyed this sampling of his short fiction An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge An Imperfect Conflagration and The Damned Thing were my favorites but few stories disappointed me Give or take this specific collection but I recommend Bierce—to fans of horror and of short fiction for he excelled at both