Ambrose Bierce's use of the occult



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The paradox found in the works of Ambrose Bierce initiated this writer's interest in an examination of his use of the occult in his short stories. It seemed unlikely that the cynical and skeptical author of The Devil's Dictionary could also be the sensitive and sympathetic narrator of the Civil War stories. Even more surprising, was the evidence offered by his stories of the occult of Bierce's interest in the supernatural. In addition, it was found that although Bierce was a paradoxical and complex individual, he was also influenced by the time in which he lived. The nineteenth century interest in the occult was demonstrated by the popularity of spiritualism. The stress upon the scientific method during the nineteenth century also explained, in part, Bierce's skepticism toward the reality of the supernatural. [...]