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Discursive stratagems: Ambrose Bierce's attacks on realism's metaphysics of language

By Aitor Ibarrola Armendariz


This article explores the stylistic devices and narrative techniques that the late 19th-century great American satirist employed to subvert and ridicule his contemporaries' understanding of language and of its relationship to reality. According to Bierce, language is not merely a constative and aseptic means to represent the world around us and communicate ideas. On the contrary, all discourses are loaded with a great deal of power and knowledge which make them about the most effective —and dangerous— performative instruments in our culture. By drawing assiduously from the writings of such theorists as Bakhtin, Foulcault, or Kristeva, this critical piece tries to demonstrate that Bierce's charges against realism allegedly neutral utilization of language were well-grounded. In order to do so, the dialogic character, parodic tone, and effective stylization of two of Bierce's best-known stories, "Chickamauga" and "My Favourite Murder," are studied in some depth. By the end of the article, the reader should have recognized a number of the reasons for Bierce's attested "obscurity" in his own days and after

Topics: Literatura norteamericana, Estilística, Relato corto, Bierce, Ambrose, Estrategias discursivas, Análisis del discurso, Realismo, Sátira
Publisher: Universidad de Alicante. Departamento de Filología Inglesa
Year: 1994
OAI identifier:

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