Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to. A degree of friendship called slight when its object is poor or obscure, and intimate when he is rich or famous.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – after December 26, 1913) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist and satirist. Today, he is best known for his short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and his satirical lexicon, The Devil’s Dictionary. The sardonic view of human nature that informed his work – along with his vehemence as a critic, with his motto “nothing matters” – earned him the nickname “Bitter Bierce.”
Despite his reputation as a searing critic, however, Bierce was known to encourage younger writers, including poet George Sterling and fiction writer W. C. Morrow. Bierce employed a distinctive style of writing, especially in his stories. This style often embraces an abrupt beginning (see cold open), dark imagery, vague references to time, limited descriptions, the theme of war, and impossible events.
In 1913, Bierce traveled to Mexico to gain a firsthand perspective on that country’s ongoing revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, the elderly writer disappeared without a trace.
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