For the first time all 112 of Stephen Crane’s short stories and sketches—including several that have not been included in any previous collection and two that are now in print for the first time—have been brought together in one volume.
Critics call Stephen Crane, who is best known for his Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage, the first “modern” American writer. Crane was only twenty-eight when he died, but his work had a profound influence on American letters. He helped to kill sentimentality in American writing, giving this country’s fiction renewed strength and dignity as an art form. Crane is considered the American counterpart of such European Nationalists as Zola, Tolstoy, and Flaubert. He refused to bow to the conventions of the day or to popular taste, but wrote about life as he saw it in the closing years of the nineteenth century. And “honest vision of life” was the foundation stone of his artistic aims, and so he sought first-hand experiences and personal involvement in his themes. He lived the life of “The Open Boat” before he wrote the story. His stories of war and conflict, such as “A Mystery of Heroism” and “Virtue in War,” reflect his experiences as a war correspondent.
Crane strove for originality in his writing; “his style—tense, darting, abrupt, ironic—blends perfectly with an impressionistic technique to give emotional, psychological, and symbolic significance to a series of astutely observed and richly colored episodes.” The stories and sketches that were a product of his one-man literary revolution are as “modern” today as ever.
This collection includes an authoritative introduction by the editor, in which he evaluates the artistic significance of Crane’s work. The stories ad sketches are presented in chronological order and have been carefully edited to ensure that they are in their original form.
About Stephen Crane
Stephen Crane was born, in 1871, in Newark, New Jersey. Raised in a strict Methodist household, he rebelled Openly, developing a strong and lasting attraction to the vices his parents had condemned. He attempted college twice, the second time failing a theme-writing course while writing articles for newspapers such as the New York Tribune. In 1892 Crane moved to the poverty of New York City’s Lower East Side–the Bowery so vividly depicted in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Destitute and depressed after the initial failure of that book, Crane had almost decided to abandon his writing and find a suitable trade when word came to him that William Dean Howells had read Maggie, and admired it, going so far as to compare Crane to Tolstoy.
Elated, Crane continued his work, and in 1894 the serial publication began of The Red Badge of Courage, his acclaimed and widely popular novel of a young soldier’s coming of age in the Civil War. In 1895 he toured the western United Stated and Mexico, and his experiences soon found form in such short stories as The Blue Hotel and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. Bound for Cuba in January of 1897, Crane and three companions survived a shipwreck off the Gulf Coast; the ordeal was the basis for his masterful story The Open Boat. He then traveled to Greece as a correspondent and returned to Cuba to report on the Spanish-American War. At twenty-eight, in failing health, Crane traveled from England to Germany to recuperate the healing atmosphere of The Black Forest. He died there while working on a humorous novel, The O’Ruddy, in June of 1900.