Ambrose Bierce's Civilians and Soldiers in Context: A Critical Study

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Kent State University Press, 2004 - History - 400 pages

Ambrose Bierce's In the Midst of Life, the second volume of The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, is hailed by critics and scholars alike as his most important literary work. In Ambrose Bierce's Civilians and Soldiers in Context: A Critical Study, Donald T. Blume refutes this and instead identifies Bierce's original 1892 collection as his most definitive and authoritative work. The two subsequent collections, appearing in 1898 and 1909, although containing subtle clues pointing back to the importance of the 1892 collection, are in their primary effect literary red herrings.

This new study reveals that the nineteen stories that comprised the original Tales of Soldiers and Civilians consist of carefully developed and interrelated meanings and themes that can only be fully understood by examining the complex circumstances of their original productions. By considering each of the nineteen tales in the order in which they were first published and by drawing heavily on contemporary related materials, Blume re-creates much of the original milieu into which Bierce carefully placed his short stories. Blume systematically examines many of Bierce's editing flaws, exposing that Bierce's decisions often weakened the original literary merits of his stories. Ultimately this story reveals, tale by tale and layer by layer, that the nineteen stories included in Bierce's 1892 collection were masterpieces of fiction, destined to become classics. Historians and Civil War enthusiasts, as well as literary scholars, will welcome this new study.

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Contents

A Holy Terror I
1
An Inhabitant of Carcosa
34
Killed at Resaca
64
One of the Missing
83
A Son of the Gods
99
A Tough Tussle
114
Chickamauga
124
The Horseman in the Sky
145
The Watcher by the Dead
193
The Man and the Snake
203
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
211
The Middle Toe of the Right Foot
244
Haïta the Shepherd
259
James Adderson Philosopher and Wit
276
An Heiress from Redhorse
302
The Boarded Window
315

The Coup de Grâce
161
The Suitable Surroundings
179
The Affair at Coulters Notch
185
The Collections
329
Copyright

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