Monday, October 26, 2009

"A Psychological Shipwreck." Ambrose Bierce.

One-minute review: On a ship, the Morrow, the narrator meets a beautiful woman sailing from England to America. In a violent storm, she is lost at sea and so is the Morrow, but, knocked unconscious, he wakes upon another ship with a roommate, someone he knows named Doyle. Somehow he has been transported to the ship City of Prague, also, like the Morrow bound for New York.

Seems Doyle and the beautiful woman lost with the Morrow were going to New York on separate ships because they are eloping against her parents’ wishes. When the narrator says her name, Doyle is in shock and worries that she will arrive in New York before him and will not know what to do or where to go.

The City of Prague is incapacitated and has to be towed to New York, but the Morrow is never heard from again.

The narrator notices that both the beautiful woman on the Morrow and Doyle, on the City of Prague, are reading the same book and have underlined the same passage: “To sundry it is given to be drawn away, and to be apart from the body for a season….”

Comment: Like O. Henry, Ambrose Bierce, known as “Bitter Bierce,” is a master of the surprise ending. He likes to tell ghost stories and stories of the Civil War. He composed a dictionary of ironic, pithy definitions that are very well worth reading. RayS.

75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World’s Literature. Ed. Roger B. Goodman. New York: Bantam Books. 1961.

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