Crane, Stephen. (1871 - 1900).
L i f e
- a rebel against conventions in his bohemian life, choice of his life partner (mistress of one ‘of the better houses of ill fame’), and his ‘muckraker’ work
- a newspaper reporter in New York slums, a correspondent on often violent events in Mexico, the American West, Cuba, and Greece > endowed his work with pessimism
W o r k
- realist, naturalist, and impressionist
- characteristically ironic tone
- concern: war and other forms of physical and psychic violence
- an acute observer of psychological and social reality
F i c t i o n :
Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1890):
- concerned with the plight of an individual in society = environmental determinism
- set in the Lower Manhattan Bowery tenement houses full of alcohol, fights, and violence
- the characters’ attempts to escape their environment and their failure due to social determination
=> criticism of society’s problems of slums and tenement houses
The Red Badge of Courage (1895):
- concerned with the education of a young man in the context of a struggle
- a traditional story-type x but: a modernist approach to personal identity as complex and ambiguous
- a characteristically troublesome conclusion: the young soldier’s certainty of having recognised the value of heroic action x the narrator’s doubts thereof
=> a masterpiece of impressionist literature
“The Open Boat” (1898):
- a story based on his own experience of surviving the sinking of a ship
- concerned with the physical, emotional, and intellectual responses of men under extreme pressure
- accompanies nature’s indifference to humanity’s fate with a tough-minded irony
P o e t r y :
- original, spare, and unflinchingly honest
- experimental in form: poems without titles = ‘lines’
- unconventional in philosophical outlook: the dark mood of his vision
- characteristic by irony (“Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind”) and cosmic irony (“A Man said to the universe” and “I walked in a desert”)
The Black Riders, and Other Lines (1895)
War is Kind, and Other Poems (1899)
(Crane in 1899. Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorStephen Crane. (1871 - 1900). American.
WorkNovelist. Short story writer. Poet. Journalist. Author of Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1890).
GenresRealism. Naturalism. Impressionism. Irony.
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"If there is a witness to my little life, / To my tiny throes and struggles, / He sees a fool; / And it is not fine for gods to menace fools".
From The Black Riders and Other Lines (1895).