Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allan Poe - common/defferent : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

What did Ambrose Bierce have in common with Edgar Allan Poe, in what respects were they very different ?

-- Anonymous, May 01, 2000



While my preference remains Poe, I have found many of Bierces tales fascinating and excellent reading. In my view, there is clear evidence of Poes influence but I feel it is somewhat limited and that their styles diverge in terms of tale structure and composition. This is not surprising given the significant differences in their backgrounds. Actually, I am more familiar with Poe than with Bierce but the primary difference I see in their works was the substantial influence Poes classical education and his attraction to Greek and Roman mythology had on his poems and short stories.

This is a purely personal view but I have never found the passion for literature in Bierce that is so clearly apparent in Poes works. It is no secret that Poe can be difficult to read and that a handy dictionary is essential in understanding many of his stories. Generally, where Poe could be effusive or long-winded, Bierce was more succinct and detailed. Consequently, and speaking comparatively, Bierce appears to be much less complex than Edgar Poe. Where Poe would spend the bulk of his text on settings, mood and characters, Bierce seems to spend the majority of his writing on the stories plot and developing twists and surprises for the reader.

If there is anything these two shared in common, it was their satire and witty commentary. Poe used this to great effect in his war with the New York Literati and to his misfortune in his dispute over his accusations of plagiarism by Longfellow. Bierce, on the other hand, was absolutely unremitting and unapologetic. He became known as Bitter Bierce for much of his satire and his abysmal cynicism was known and feared by many from coast to coast. It was felt that Bierce just simply hated everybody and everything.

They were not contemporaries and their lives were significantly different but both had felt the bitter pains of loss. For Poe, it was his Mother; his foster Mother; a youthful infatuation Ms Jane Stanard; his wife, Virginia and his brother William. For Bierce, it was his participation in the Civil War; his sons suicide at 16; another sons death at 26 and his wifes infidelity and death. Similar in the burdens of their respective lives, perhaps, but for Poe writing was his passion, particularly poetry. For Bierce. it seems to have been an outlet for his anger.


-- Anonymous, May 01, 2000

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