miércoles, 29 de agosto de 2007

AMBROSE BIERCE_ El Dicionario del Diablo(1842-1914)



El periodista y escritor estadounidense Ambrose Gwinett Bierce (24 de junio de 1842-1914?) nació en Horse Cave Creek, en el condado de Meigs (Ohio). Sus padres, Marcus Aurelius y Laura, granjeros de honda fe calvinista, tuvieron trece hijos, y les dieron a todos ellos nombres que empezaban con la letra "A".
Pronto se dio a conocer como periodista en San Francisco, donde colaboró en The Argonaut, The Overland Monthly y The News Letter, del que fue nombrado director en 1868.
En 1871 contrajo matrimonio con Molly Day. En este mismo año publicó su primera novela. Se fue a Londres a probar fortuna (1872-76). Allí sus primeras narraciones cortas, aparecidas en revistas y recopiladas más tarde en tres tomos, le crearon fama de humorista cáustico y mordaz (fue apodado “el Amargo” ('bitter') por sus contemporáneos). Su estilo se caracteriza por el constante uso de la ironía. Misántropo, expresó su pesimismo en cuentos y relatos cortos que no se hacen excesivas ilusiones sobre la bondad esencial del hombre y la mujer. También compuso Fábulas fantásticas y un Esopo enmendado, críticas corrosivas de la corrupción política norteamericana.
De regreso a San Francisco se convirtió en el árbitro de los círculos políticos y literarios. Hizo gala de su humor macabro en The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter (1892) y de ingenio satírico en su libro de versos Shapes of Clay (1903).
Se le considera heredero literario directo de sus compatriotas Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne y Herman Melville. Cuentista de primer orden, le debemos algunos de los mejores relatos macabros de la historia de la literatura: La muerte de Halpin Frayser, La cosa maldita, Un suceso en el puente sobre el río Owl, Un habitante de Carcosa, Un terror sagrado, La ventana tapiada, etc.
Bierce es el escritor que gran parte de la crítica sitúa al lado de Poe, Lovecraft y Maupassant en el panteón de ilustres cultivadores del género terrorífico. A través de sus contundentes filigranas se evidenció como maestro absoluto en la recreación de tensas atmósferas desasosegantes en medio de las cuales detona repentinamente un horror "físico", absorbente y feroz.
El también escritor de relatos de horror H. P. Lovecraft tomó algunos elementos de la obra de Bierce para incorporarlos a sus Mitos de Cthulhu. Sobre los relatos de Bierce, escribió que "en todos ellos hay una maleficencia sombría innegable y algunos siguen siendo verdaderas cumbres de la literatura fantástica norteamericana".
Si bien se lo suele encasillar como un autor de cuentos de terror, no todos sus textos pertenecen a ese género, en cambio, sus textos suelen contener una fuerte dosis de sarcasmo o de lúcida ironía, que a menudo se convierte en un agudo humor negro.
El autor tuvo una vida pública intensa y agitada, pero su muerte siempre ha aparecido rodeada de misterio. Sin que se conozcan muy bien los motivos, en 1913, ya cumplidos los setenta y acosado por un intenso asma que padeció durante años, cruzó la frontera con México, en plena revolución, aparentemente para, participar en ella o buscando recordar sus aventuras como soldado, y así terminar sus últimos días.
Antes de partir con rumbo a México, en una carta fechada el 1 de octubre de 1913, escribió a una de sus familiares en Washington: "(...)Adiós -si oyes que he sido colocado contra un muro de piedra mexicano y me han fusilado hasta convertirme en harapos, por favor, entiende que yo pienso que esa es una manera muy buena de salir de esta vida. Supera a la ancianidad, a la enfermedad, o a la caída por las escaleras de la bodega. Ser un gringo en México -¡ah, eso si es eutanasia!(...)".
La “Enciclopedia Británica” aventura que pudo ser asesinado en el sitio de Ojinaga (enero de 1914). En efecto, un documento de la época consigna la muerte en esta batalla de "un gringo viejo". Tal es el título de una novela del escritor mexicano Carlos Fuentes.
Aparte de los mencionados, se considera que su principal libro es In the midst of life (traducible como 'En la mitad de la vida') (1891), que compila sus mejores y más sombríos relatos, alguno de ellos ambientado en la Guerra Civil americana. Su obra más conocida es Diccionario del diablo (1906).

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