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In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians

by Ambrose Bierce

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Alle verhalen van Ambrose Bierce (Boek 1)

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294570,132 (4.08)16
In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians is a collection of twenty-six short stories detailing the lives of soldiers and civilians during the American Civil War. These include "A Horseman in the Sky," "Chickamauga," "The Applicant," "A Holy Terror," "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"-perhaps his most famous story of all-and twenty-one other disturbing tales. Their messages about the horrors of war live on vividly to this day.… (more)

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» See also 16 mentions

English (3)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 3 of 3
391. In the Midst of Life Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, by Ambrose Bierce (read 23 Apr 1951) (Book of the Year) On Apr 7, 1951 I said: "Read some Ambrose Bierce stories. They are really good. I am glad I found the book. The first one I read was 'That Damned Thing' which was a good introduction. Next 'A Horseman in the Sky'--a Union sentry shoots his father's horse rather than his Confederate father. Next ' An Occurrence at Owl Bridge': a masterpiece and something I wish I had written. It is just the sort of thing I'd write if I could. Tells a story of a guy's thoughts between falling and dying while being hanged. Next: 'Chichamanga' a real horrible thing--a little 6 year old boy sees these guys at dusk after a battle: 'The man . . .turned upon him a face that lacked a lower jaw--from the upper teeth to the throat was a great red gap fringed with hanging shreds of flesh and splinters of bone.' But all this doesn't bother the little brat till he finds his mother: 'the white face turned upward . . the long dark hair in tangle and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead . . . torn away. from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson bubbles . . .' Poe was never like this. Next: 'A Son of the Gods' is in the present tense, the only other story I remember reading in present tense was of my own composition. Next: 'One of the Missing.' It, too was my sort of story. A guy was staring down a rifle barrel and couldn't move. What a story! What an author is Ambrose Bierce!" On Apr 9 I said: "Just read a terrific Bierce story 'The Coup de Grace' Tells of a guy who finds his best friend mortally and horribly wounded on a deserted battlefield. Seeing that he seeks death, he stabs him and just then his friend's brother and his own mortal enemy and two stretcher bearers walk up: Wow! What a storyteller! Simple, effective, direct. It is all essential to his story. No surplus wordage. A devastating writer" On Apr 16 I said: "Read two great Bierce stories today. 'George Thurston' told of a scared officer who stabbed himself so the sword came out between his shoulder blades. 'The Mocking Bird' told beautifully and sadly the story of a guy who shot his twin brother. His stuff is pure poetry: 'the shrilling bird upon the bough overhead stilled her song and, flushed with sunset's crimson glory, glided silently away through the solemn spaces of the wood. At roll call that evening in the Federal camp the name William Graycock brought no response, nor ever again thereafter.' With pure simple beauty." On Apr 20: "Read a terrific Bierce story: 'A Watcher by the Dead': A character says: 'if a man were locked up all night with a corpse--alone--in a dark room--of a vacant house--with no bed covers to pull over his head--and lived through it without going altogether mad, he might justly boast himself not of woman born.' The story goes on from there." ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 23, 2013 |
This republication on clean stock in readable type of articles written by Ambrose Bierce during and after the 1861-1865 Civil War makes this work of an important journalist and tale-teller available to contemporaries.

This Citadel Press republication fails to provide more than a back cover introduction, although what it provides is not faulted: "Some of the most chilling and macabre tales in the English language can be attributed to American journalist and short story wirter Ambrose Bierce." Citing his books, the anonymous editor states that he "also penned scathing views of frontier life and its lawlessness, and the most causic treatises on war". Both are reflected in these articles.

While "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is the one familiar to many for having been inserted in many school books and made into films, the other 20 tales are as vividly written.

"It was customary for officers of the regular army to speak of it as 'the army'. As the greatest cities are most provincial, so the self-complacency of aristocracies is most frankly plebeian." [85] How often I observe this myself!

"Grief is an artist of powers as varoius as the instruments upon which he plays his dirges for the dead..." [171]

"...another of Adversity's brood, who, like Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy, had a chronic inability to adjudicate the rival claims of Frost and Famine." [174]

Here, a brief animadversion on Garrick. He was a relentlessly self-promoting English stage "actor". David Garrick (1717-1779) was the most famous English actor of the 18th century. He was remarkably good at promoting his own image and he inspired a number of artworks.

Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
David Garrick between Comedy and Tragedy

Think about modern-day celebrities and the ways they present themselves.

This mock-heroic composition is full of jokes and references to mythology and the Grand Tradition of European painting. It is based on representations of the Choice of Hercules, a subject found in ancient Greek and Latin literature. The classical god Hercules was asked to choose between Pleasure and Virtue and chose the more difficult but honourable path of Virtue. In this picture, Garrick is torn between the two dramatic genres of Comedy and Tragedy. Is he apologising to the figure of Tragedy while he yields laughingly to the seductive figure of Comedy? Is he shrugging? Is he politely beseeching her to understand and to forgive? The figure of Tragedy is strong and stiff, her gestures stylised - a little like a classical statue. Comedy looks out at us. Is she proud of her triumph? The direction of Tragedy’s gaze fixes our eye on Garrick’s face whose lively angle and remarkable animation contrasts with her stern profile.
  keylawk | Dec 25, 2012 |
Ambrose Bierce -- 1st Thus Edition N/A Printing -- FINE/NONE -- copy of In The Midst of Life. 8vo. 280 pp. First Franklin Library Edition Thus. Fully bound in blue leather. The front and rear boards are elegantly decorated with gilt-stamping. Designs repeated from the boards, the author's name, and the publisher's name are gilt-stamped to the spine and are separated by two untooled raised leather bands. The top-edges, fore-edges, and bottom-edges of the text block are gilt. The endpapers and pastedowns are beautifully executed in lavender silk moire. A matching satin ribbon marker is sewn in. Handsomely illustrated by artist Dennis Lyall. A copy of the Notes From The Editors is laid-in. A stunning, crisp copy.
  Czrbr | Jun 7, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ambrose Bierceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cunliffe, MarcusAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the Midst of Life: Tales of Soldiers and Civilians is a collection of twenty-six short stories detailing the lives of soldiers and civilians during the American Civil War. These include "A Horseman in the Sky," "Chickamauga," "The Applicant," "A Holy Terror," "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"-perhaps his most famous story of all-and twenty-one other disturbing tales. Their messages about the horrors of war live on vividly to this day.

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