View Full Version : Ambrose Bierce, quotes and comments

04-04-2008, 11:04 PM
How fascinating is Antiquity!--in what a golden haze the ancients lived their lives! We, too, are ancients. Of our enchanting time Posterity's great poets will sing immortal songs, and its archaeologists will reverently uncover the foundations of our palaces and temples. Meantime we swap jack-knives.

04-04-2008, 11:07 PM
Another cynical gem by Ambrose Bierce:"Rioting gains its end by the power of numbers. To a believer in the wisdom and goodness of majorities it is not permitted to denounce a successful mob."

Artistically set to grace
The wall of a dissecting-place,
A human pericardium
Was fastened with a bit of gum,
While, simply underrunning it,
The one word, "Charity," was writ
To show the student band that hovered
About it what it once had covered.

04-04-2008, 11:18 PM
EXILE, n. One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador. An English sea-captain being asked if he had read "The Exile of Erin," replied: "No, sir, but I should like to anchor on it." Years afterwards, when he had been hanged as a pirate after a career of unparalleled atrocities, the following memorandum was found in the ship's log that he had kept at the time of his reply:

Aug. 3d, 1842. Made a joke on the ex-Isle of Erin. Coldly received. War with the whole world!

I was thinking of Bierce just this morning when I read the discussion going on over at the Old Man and The Sea thread. I was struck by the number of similarities between An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and I wondered why I had never noticed them before. Am I alone, or did anybody else notice them too?

04-05-2008, 12:41 AM
Intriguing comparison...never considered by this reader.

04-05-2008, 12:50 AM
decision: ...the preponderance of one set of influences over another.

04-05-2008, 05:44 AM
FICKLENESS, n. The iterated satiety of an enterprising affection.

04-05-2008, 04:05 PM
I meant in the way that both stories are about men facing imminent death who have a surreal escapist fantasy as they die, which culminates in a snap back to reality at the end and a return to realism.

04-05-2008, 08:37 PM
DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.

04-05-2008, 10:33 PM
Bierce in the fiercely satirical "Devil"s Dictionary" often employs poetry to drive home his point. In this definition of "Man" his poetry almost eclipses his satire and he attributes it to fictitious authors. --- MAN, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earh and Canada.
{When the world was young and Man was new,
And everything was pleasant,
Distinctions Nature never drew
'Mongst kings and priest and peasant.
We're not that way at present,
Save here in this Republic, where
We have that old regime,
For all are kings, however bare
Their backs, howe'er extreme
Their hunger. And, indeed, each has a voice
To accept the tyrant of his party's choice.

A citizen who would not vote,
And, therefore, was detested,
Was one day with a tarry coat
(With feathers backed and breasted)
By patriots invested.
"It is your duty," cried the crowd,
"Your ballot true to cast
For the man o' your choice." He humbly bowed,
And explained his wicked past:
"That's what I very gladly would have done,
Dear patriots, but he has never run."}
Apperton Duke