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Stephen Crane: A Critical Biography Paperback – May 29, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Crane was popular while alive, but slipped quickly into obscurity after his death. He died at age 28 but did leave a legacy of published novels, short stories, poetry, and journalism. Released initially in 1950 and then revised in 1962, this was the first serious critical look at Crane, buttressing his reputation as a great American artist, although his creativity, or at least his application of it, came sporadically. Berryman offers lots of insight into Crane's creative process.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


An important work…. We are not likely soon to get anything better on [Crane's] critical and psychological sides. (Edmund Wilson The New Yorker)

...a compelling and high-caliber piece of literary criticism. A real addition to modern critical writing. (Kirkus Reviews)

Berryman offers lots of insight into Crane's creative process. (Library Journal)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press; Revised edition (May 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815411154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815411154
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #962,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Billyjack D'Urberville on May 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Now going on 60 years old, this was poet Berryman's doctoral thesis. It remains a milestone study on Crane, and in American literature studies generally for its acute insights. It stands up quite well to most Crane studies since; though more "facts" have emerged, they do not greatly alter the essential portrait. A good complement to Berryman's book is Robert Stallman's, which sets Crane in the context of his fantastic end-of-a-century day. But to get at the core of the creative genius it really takes another, and while some of Berryman's views are still controversial, there can be little arguing with most of it.

Crane wrote two short novel masterpieces, Maggie and the Red Badge, and several of the best stories in modern English to date in a short span of about 8 years. Berryman deftly mixes biography with literary criticism of these works in a sound scholarly way unfortunately no longer fashionable. His bow to the ethos of his own times is a Freudian chapter at the end, which you can take or mostly leave. Its placement is simultaneously shrewd and cynical; an obvious bow to Berryman's teachers' demands, but to any other reader as detatchable as a coupon. It therefore does not mar the otherwise deep meditation on this mercurial personality, who Berryman characterizes as a "volcanic" natural talent from whom words flowed like lava. Berryman believes Crane was likely to have dwarfed most other American novelists had he lived and produced beyond his mere 30 years. While such speculations are often a distraction, his affinity with Crane turns them into a compelling meditation on where American literature was shortly to go: to World War I and Paris.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on September 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
John Berryman ( Dreamsongs) was one of America's finest poets. He began as a literary critic and this thorough work on the life of Crane contains both a solid biography and considerable literary criticism of Crane's work.

He writes of Crane as a young , rebelious genius, who had his own way of seeing things. He traces in detail the journalistic career of Crane which led him not simply to the Bowery and East Side, but to battlefieds in Greece and Cuba. He analyzes to a degree Crane's masterpiece ' The Red Badge of Courage' Here is his brief description of the work. "The Red Badge of Courage is the story of the mind of a new young Northern soldier as it accustoms itself to war during two days in and out of his first battle. There is a preliminary debate within himself as to whether he will run away or not. When his regiment is charged a second time, hye does, and hides resentfully in a wood, where he meeta a rotting corpse in a chapellike place. He joins the march of wounded away from the battle and comes on a friend hurt horribly, a tall soldier, whom he accompanies to his extraordinary death.A tattered man has befriended him on the march, this man, whose plight is very bad, his mind wandering, the youth deserts in shame, on the question reiterated, of where he is wounded. Then in a flight of the troops he is clubbed with a rifle when he tries to ask a panic- stricken man a question. An unseen man finally helps him back to his regiment.Since it has got scattered during the battle his shame is unknown: he says he was shot and is cared for by a friend, a loud youth who bandages his bloody head.He sleeps.
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This book is fantastic for learning about the mindset of Crane. Not much is "findable" about his brain except through this book. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning about why Crane wrote the way he did and the life events that led up to his greatest literature compositions.
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