Fantastic Fables


A picture for the book Fantastic Fables

Ambrose Bierce is well known for his war stories ( "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", "The Boarded Window", "Killed at Resaca", "Chickamauga" ) and his ghost stories ( "Present at a Hanging", "A Wireless Message", "A Vine on a House", "A Baffled Ambuscade" ). But Bierce was also able to write in other genres as well, and his 1899 publication of Fantastic Fables anticipated the grotesquerie style that would emerge in the 20th century and is now exemplified by the work of Katherine Anne Porter.

The stories in Fantastic Fables are often absurd and feature an ironic twist, illustrated by this selection that I chose at random:

An Antidote

A YOUNG Ostrich came to its Mother, groaning with pain and with its wings tightly crossed upon its stomach.

"What have you been eating?" the Mother asked, with solicitude.

"Nothing but a keg of Nails," was the reply.

"What!" exclaimed the Mother; "a whole keg of Nails, at your age! Why, you will kill yourself that way. Go quickly, my child, and swallow a claw-hammer."

These are brief and wonderful tales exhibiting yet another facet of Bierce's wit and talent.


Alarm and Pride

An AErophobe

An Antidote

An Inadequate Fee

An Invitation

An Inflated Ambition

An Officer and a Thug

An Optimist

An Unspeakable Imbecile

At Heaven's Gate

At Large - One Temper

At The Pole

A Call to Quit

A Causeway

A Creaking Tail

A Fatal Disorder

A Flourishing Industry

A Fourfetted Right

A Harmless Visitor

A Hasty Settlement

A Matter of Method

A Needful War

A Needless Labour

A Prophet of Evil

A Protagonist of Silver

A Racial Parallel

A Revivalist Revealed

A Ship and a Man

A Smiling Idol

A Statesman

A Talisman

A Transposition

A Treaty of Peace

A Valuable Suggestion

A Weary Echo

Congress and the People

Equipped for Service

Father and Son

Fortune and the Fabulist

From the Minutes

His Fly-Speck Majesty

How Leisure Came

Philosophers Three

Physicians Two

Rejected Services

Religions of Error

Revenge

Saint and Sinner

Six and One

The Alderman and the Raccoon

The All Dog

The Ancient Order

The Angel's Tear

The Appropriate Memorial

The Ashes of Madame Blavatsky

The Austere Governor

The Australian Grasshopper

The Basking Cyclone

The Blotted Escutcheon and the Soiled Ermine

The Boneless King

The Broom of the Temple

The Bumbo of Jiam

The Catted Anarchist

The Cat and the King

The Christian Serpent

The Circular Clew

The Citizen and the Snakes

The City of Political Distinction

The Compassionate Physician

The Conscientious Official

The Crew of the Life-Boat

The Crimson Candle

The Critics

The Debaters

The Deceased and his Heirs

The Desperate Object

The Devoted Widow

The Discontented Malefactor

The Disinterested Arbiter

The Divided Delegation

The Dog and the Physician

The Dutiful Son

The Eligible Son-in-Law

The Expatriated Boss

The Fabuslist and the Animals

The Faithful Cashier

The Farmer's Friend

The Flying-Machine

The Fogy and the Sheik

The Foolish Woman

The Fugitive Office

The Good Government

The Hardy Patriots

The Highwayman and the Traveller

The Holy Deacon

The Honest Cadi

The Honest Citizen

The Honourable Member

The Humble Peasant

The Ineffective Rooter

The Ingenious Blackmailer

The Ingenious Patriot

The Judge and the Plaintiff

The Judge and the Rash Act

The Justice and His Accuser

The Kangaroo and the Zebra

The Lassoed Bear

The Legislator and the Citizen

The Life Saver

The Life-Savers

The Lion and the Rattlesnake

The Literary Astronomer

The Man and the Bird

The Man and the Lightning

The Man and the Wart

The Man of Principal

The Man with No Enemies

The Massacre

The Member and the Soap

The Mine Owner and the Jackass

The Mirror

The Moral Principle and the Material Interest

The Moral Sentiment

The Mourning Brothers

The Nightside of Character

The Noser and the Note

The No Case

The Old Man and the Pupil

The Opossum of the Future

The Optimist and the Cynic

The Overlooked Factor

The Party Manager and the Gentleman

The Party Over There

The Patriot and the Banker

The Pavior

The Penitent Elector

The Poetess of Reform

The Poet and the Editor

The Poet's Doom

The Policeman and the Citizen

The Politicians

The Politicians and the Plunder

The Power of the Scalawag

The Prerogative of Might

The Pugilists's Diet

The Rainmaker

The Reform School Board

The Returned Californian

The Return of the Representative

The Sagacious Rat

The Seeker and the Sought

The Self-Made Monkey

The Shadow of the Leader

The Sportsman and the Squirrel

The Statesman and the Horse

The Tail of the Sphinx

The Taken Hand

The Thief and the Honest Man

The Thistles upon the Grave

The Thoughtful Warden

The Thrift of Strength

The Treasury and the Arms

The Tried Assassin

The Two Poets

The Tyrant Frog

The Unchanged Diplomatist

The Various Delegation

The Witch's Steed

The Wooden Guns

The Writer and the Tramps

Three of a Kind

Three Recruits

Two Dogs

Two Footpads

Two in Trouble

Two Kings

Two of the Damned

Tow of the Pious

Two Politicians

Uncalculating Zeal

Wasted Sweets

Return to Ambrose Bierce's library.