The Black Mass 23: The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce

Join us on Fri­day at a lit­tle after 12 noon or 4pm Pacif­ic time for anoth­er episode in the land­mark radio dra­ma series The Black Mass, cre­at­ed by the late Erik Bauers­feld and his col­leagues at the Paci­fi­ca radio sta­tion KPFA in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia, over fifty years ago. In 30 chill­ing tales of mys­tery, imag­i­na­tion and the human mind, The Black Mass brings you some of literature’s most haunt­ing sto­ries, by mas­ters of the craft — many of whom are best-known in oth­er fields. Our thanks as always to John Whit­ing, pro­duc­er of many of these record­ings, and of course to Erik Bauers­feld him­self. This pro­gramme was orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast on Feb­ru­ary 12, 1964.

Note that the episode will not start until the track play­ing at the top of the hour has fin­ished, so the actu­al start time of the episode will be a few min­utes after the hour.

Today: The Board­ed Win­dow by Ambrose Bierce

The Board­ed Win­dow: An Inci­dent in the Life of an Ohio Pio­neer” is a short sto­ry by Amer­i­can Civ­il War sol­dier, wit, and writer Ambrose Bierce. It was first pub­lished in The San Fran­cis­co Exam­in­er on April 12, 1891 and was reprint­ed the same year in Bierce’s col­lec­tion Tales of Sol­diers and Civil­ians. The set­ting for the sto­ry is that part of Ohio where Bierce’s fam­i­ly lived until 1846.

Bierce’s sto­ry was prob­a­bly influ­enced by Poe’s “The Pre­ma­ture Bur­ial”. “That of Granny Magone” is Bierce’s ear­li­er treat­ment of a sim­i­lar subject.

Wikipedia says of Ambrose Bierce:

Ambrose Gwin­nett Bierce (June 24, 1842 – cir­ca 1914) was an Amer­i­can short sto­ry writer, jour­nal­ist, poet, and Civ­il War vet­er­an. His book The Dev­il’s Dic­tio­nary was named as one of “The 100 Great­est Mas­ter­pieces of Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture” by the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion Bicen­ten­ni­al Admin­is­tra­tion. His sto­ry “An Occur­rence at Owl Creek Bridge” has been described as “one of the most famous and fre­quent­ly anthol­o­gized sto­ries in Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture”; and his book Tales of Sol­diers and Civil­ians (also pub­lished as In the Midst of Life) was named by the Groli­er Club as one of the 100 most influ­en­tial Amer­i­can books print­ed before 1900.

A pro­lif­ic and ver­sa­tile writer, Bierce was regard­ed as one of the most influ­en­tial jour­nal­ists in the Unit­ed States, and as a pio­neer­ing writer of real­ist fic­tion. For his hor­ror writ­ing, Michael Dir­da ranked him along­side Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Love­craft. S. T. Joshi spec­u­lates that he may well be the great­est satirist Amer­i­ca has ever pro­duced, and in this regard can take his place with such fig­ures as Juve­nal, Swift, and Voltaire. His war sto­ries influ­enced Stephen Crane, Ernest Hem­ing­way, and oth­ers, and he was con­sid­ered an influ­en­tial and feared lit­er­ary crit­ic. In recent decades Bierce has gained wider respect as a fab­u­list and for his poetry.

The Black Mass art­work was cre­at­ed by Ter­ry Lightfoot.