Monday, October 24, 2011

Mysterious Mondays: Ambrose Bierce's "The Damned Thing"

By dispatches from here

Ambrose Bierce was an American journalist and author whose biting and sardonic wit earned him the nickname "Bitter Bierce".  He was born in Ohio to a poor but literary couple, the tenth of thirteen children, all with names beginning with the letter "A".  At the age of fifteen be began working for a small Ohio newspaper, but enlisted in the Union Army when the Civil War broke out.  He fought well, but in 1864 suffered a head wound in battle and was furloughed for the rest of the war.  The horrific scenes he witnessed during the war would influence his later writings, including what is probably his most famous tale, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge".  After the war he resumed his military career, traveling across the Great Plains to inspect military outposts from Omaha to San Francisco.  In San Francisco Bierce retired from the Army, working and residing in that city for many years, with brief stints in England and the Dakota Territory.  Eventually he was employed by William Randolph Hearst's newspaper, The San Francisco Examiner, where he became a prominent and influential, if often controversial, contributor.  In 1913, the 71-year-old Bierce began a tour of Civil War battlefields he had known, and then ended up in Mexico, joining Pancho Villa's army as an observer during that nation's revolution.  At some time during this mission Ambrose Bierce mysteriously disappeared and was never heard from again.  To this day his fate is unknown.

Bierce was a well-known writer of supernatural tales.  Of the 93 short stories he wrote, 53 can be classified in this genre.  Most of his stories are short and abrupt in style, which is characteristic of his work.  The predominant theme of many of his tales is hauntings, often of a vengeful nature.  One of his best, however, does not involve ghosts.  It is entitled "The Damned Thing", and can be read here.  To read more of his tales, go to this site.

From Wikipedia

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