“Realism” is an element of some of Abrose Bierce’s short stories (particularly those concerning the Civil War), but the term is of little value when discussing his often fantastical imagination. In his essay “The Short Story” he writes: ‘Probability? Nothing so improbable as what is true. It is the unexpected that occurs . . . Everything being so unearthly improbable, I wonder that novelists of the Howells school have the audacity to relate anything all.’ ” . . . Read More »
From among his few short stories, William Austin‘s fame rests primarily with one, “Peter Rugg, or the Missing Man,” which became immensely popular and a favorite of Hawthorne and Longfellow. Austin incorporates legends of the Wandering Jew and the Flying Dutchman into a New England setting, much as [[Washington Irving]] had done with Knickerbocker materials in “Rip Van Winkle.” . . . Read More »
Three of the essays in this collection (“History,” “Self-Reliance,” “The Over-soul”) sprang from the 1836 lectures on the philosophy of history Emerson delivered at the Boston Masonic Temple.
“History” really isn’t about history but how to convert the burden of the past into a survival kit for the future. “The fact narrated must correspond to something in me to be credible or intelligible.” Emerson believed that history could not be ignored, but for it to have currency we must imagine ourselves in it. “We . . . must become Greeks, Romans, Turks, priest and king, martyr and executioner, must fasten images to some reality in our experience, or we shall learn nothing rightly.” . . . Read More »