Ambrose Bierce Review?

I'm interested in the book The Collected Writings of Ambrose Bierce so I want to read some reviews about it before I buy it. Has anyone read this book?

asked by Jim in Books & Writing | 2701 views | 08-15-2009 at 05:02 PM

Bierce's one-paragraph fables are quite amazing. I haven't read this book yet. Here, some reviews I found of the book:

This is a splendid selection of Bierce's work,and includes The Devil's Dictionary, Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, Can Such Things Be?, and other works of importance. It does desire to be the definitive selection, however, and therefore omits some extremely interesting criticism,journalism, some proto-Dada plays and political satires. These omissions all confirm Clifton Fadiman's genteel bias, evident in his Introduction. He characterizes Bierce as merely a cynic--as though that were not a tenable position--but in fact Bierce was a satirist of the first order. A true "cynic" would not bother to satirize anything at all. By all means read the Introduction, but try to imagine, as I do, separate afterlives for Bierce and Fadiman, the ones they deserve. Bierce is having a roaring good time in Hell, while Fadiman is serving herbal teas in dull Eternity.

These are about the only ghost stories that I like to read, and I usually like to think that I am a lot smarter than that. But I am inclined to think that some people were a lot better educated in the days of Ambrose Bierce, or he wouldn't have written his poem about "poor Salmasius" in THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY's definition of the word logomachy, a concept which is like psychoanalysis in its quest for effectiveness. What is absolutely lacking today is any evidence for the truth of the final line of that poem, "For reading Milton's wit we perish too." (p. 295) In these days, it is far more likely that the TV news and entertainment will be competing for most of the attention devoted to whoever is being more fatal.

These hard-hitting tales expose the human condition for what it is. They deserve much better than the incompetent criticism offered by Clifton Fadiman, whose preface is little more than a compilation of his own shortcomings.

answered by Grant | 08-15-2009 at 05:05 PM

comment
Thread Tools
vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.