Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ambrose Bierce's Occurrence at Owl Creek

Introduction by the translator

Although magical realism seems to be a product of Eastern Europe and Latin America, the genre has been cultivated and practiced in the United States by writers of different generations.

If we take into account that magical realism is a literary genre that combines elements of fantasy with dreams, which sets fabulous stories in a normal world, the everyday world, contemporary writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, John Cheever, Toni Morrison and William Kennedy, then meet the requirements for inclusion in the genre of magical realism.

On the basis of Indian fables, folktales, fairy tales, stories of Puritans, and myths, these American writers have produced works full of amazing tricks, dream sequences, and distortion of what we accept as natural—the real world or objective world.

Ambrose Bierce’s story "Occurrence at Owl Creek" (here translated into Spanish) is a humble little book which —in relation to the extensive work of the author— is a diamond in the genre of magical realism. Not only shines this amazing story because of the occurrences of horror, suspense, and violence, but because the story is also a story of love, honor, and fidelity.

For all the virtues mentioned above, "Occurrence at Owl Creek" is a short story that is indispensable in any anthology of short stories. Located in the historic event was the 1860 Civil War between the states of the North and the South, Ambrose Bierce paints a feverish landscape where the outer vision is mixed with the subjectivity of the hero Peyton Fahrquhar, dragging and involving the reader into the phantasmal action where Peyton agonistes builds a parallel reality but more superior and palatable than objective reality.

In contrast to some literal translations, I have done my best to present the story in a language familiar to the contemporary reader. It would serve no purpose to preserve certain archaic terms just to be faithful to original version.

Two versions, in English and Spanish are available in amazon for $1.99. 

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