Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Poetry of Stephen Crane

Writing in The New Criterion, Michael Dirda on the amazing Stephen Crane. An excerpt:

Though he died at twenty-eight from tuberculosis, Crane packed an enormous amount into a short life. His father was an eminent clergyman and he grew up in a Methodist family; the Bible seems to have been the chief reading of the household. At Lafayette College and Syracuse University, from neither of which he graduated, Crane preferred playing baseball to studying. After he became a young reporter, he quickly adopted the dashing, romantic life expected of a newspaperman. He wrote about the slums and slept in a New York flophouse, traveled out to the still wild west, escaped pursuit from Mexican bandits, nearly drowned after a shipwreck off the coast of Florida, covered civil unrest in Cuba and war in Greece, and even entered into a common-law marriage with the former madam of the Hotel de Dream bordello, eventually settling down with her in a country house in England. At Brede Place, his neighbors and admirers included Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, and, not least, H. G. Wells, who, in his novel Boon, declared that Crane was “the best writer of English for the last half century.”

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