dimarts, 11 de gener de 2011

STEPHEN CRANE


In his brief career he produced an extensive body of work collected in 12 volumes.

In only 8 years he managed to bring out two volumes of poetry, five novels and over three hundred short stories, sketches and articles.

His well-known standing as a prolific journalist has supported the idea that he wrote fiction basically drawing on the events he witnessed and reported for the newspapers.

However, it has been noted that Crane often anticipated in his writings the circumstances in which he himself would later be involved.

For instance:

He sketched a novel about NY slum life before having any direct knowledge of the metropolis.

And published brilliant descriptions of battlefields before he had any real acquaintance with actual war.

It should not come as a surprise that the enormous imaginative appeal that disasters at sea and scenes of drowning had for him materialized in his own shipwreck off the coast of Florida.

What seems clear today is that his obsessive search for intense experience was both the result of his artistic concerns and the stimulus for his creative achievements.

In his own time, his personal exploits became legendary. Perhaps too much attention was devoted to how preacher’s unruly son rejected Christianity and lived in scandal with his common-law wife, an ex -owner of a brothel in Florida.

His colourful life of excess resembled that of EA Poe and its treatment by an inaccurate first biographer had a deep impact on his literary reputation.

His biographical background has been properly researched and what emerges is a nonconformist and somewhat mysterious figure.

He pictured himself as such when he wrote, “I cannot help vanishing and disappearing and dissolving. It is my foremost trait”.

There is much in his best writings that is as original and remains as unexplained as his personality.

Many of his works elude simple definition or classification, for they reflect the various artistic trends of the end of the 19th c, especially naturalism, impressionism and symbolism.

Furthermore, some critics have seen Crane as a forerunner of the 20th-c movements of expressionism and existentialism.

He was born in New Jersey, the 14th son of a revivalist Methodist minister and a pious mother who wrote for religious journals and was herself descended from a long line of Methodist clergy.

Brought up in an austere home, he soon rebelled against the interdictions and strict discipline under which he had spent his childhood.

He was not academically successful.

His literary ambitions took him to NY, where he supported himself as a freelance newspaperman and completed his first novel: Maggie, a girl of the streets.

He had sketched out a draft of Maggie while he was still a student at Syracuse University, before he had acquired any direct experience of the “wicked city”.

His literary inspiration was stirred by listening to Hamlin Garland lecture on realism in fiction.

He was obsessed with learning more about the actual existence of the people he wrote about, thus he decided to study urban vice in one of the worst slums of NY, the Bowery.

The idea of a dangerous world bordering the genteel neighbourhoods had a peculiar attraction for him, and his journalistic activities allowed him to observe at close hand the shabby tenement districts and the city’s police court.

Maggie is one of the earliest examples of literary determinism in American fiction for “it tries to show that environment is a tremendous thing in the world and frequently shapes lives”.

Its protagonist is an innocent and abused slum girl who is seduced, driven to prostitution and eventually commits suicide.

After being rejected by a number of publishers, the novel was privately printed under a pseudonym, probably to spare embarrassment to Crane’s prominent Methodist family.

The novel was a commercial failure partly because the American public did not welcome this grim exponent of social realism that so authentically recreated sordid slum life.

In his brief career he produced an extensive body of work collected in 12 volumes.

In only 8 years he managed to bring out two volumes of poetry, five novels and over three hundred short stories, sketches and articles.

His well-known standing as a prolific journalist has supported the idea that he wrote fiction basically drawing on the events he witnessed and reported for the newspapers.

However, it has been noted that Crane often anticipated in his writings the circumstances in which he himself would later be involved.

For instance:

He sketched a novel about NY slum life before having any direct knowledge of the metropolis.

And published brilliant descriptions of battlefields before he had any real acquaintance with actual war.

It should not come as a surprise that the enormous imaginative appeal that disasters at sea and scenes of drowning had for him materialized in his own shipwreck off the coast of Florida.

What seems clear today is that his obsessive search for intense experience was both the result of his artistic concerns and the stimulus for his creative achievements.

In his own time, his personal exploits became legendary. Perhaps too much attention was devoted to how preacher’s unruly son rejected Christianity and lived in scandal with his common-law wife, an ex -owner of a brothel in Florida.

His colourful life of excess resembled that of EA Poe and its treatment by an inaccurate first biographer had a deep impact on his literary reputation.

His biographical background has been properly researched and what emerges is a nonconformist and somewhat mysterious figure.

He pictured himself as such when he wrote, “I cannot help vanishing and disappearing and dissolving. It is my foremost trait”.

There is much in his best writings that is as original and remains as unexplained as his personality.

Many of his works elude simple definition or classification, for they reflect the various artistic trends of the end of the 19th c, especially naturalism, impressionism and symbolism.

Furthermore, some critics have seen Crane as a forerunner of the 20th-c movements of expressionism and existentialism.

He was born in New Jersey, the 14th son of a revivalist Methodist minister and a pious mother who wrote for religious journals and was herself descended from a long line of Methodist clergy.

Brought up in an austere home, he soon rebelled against the interdictions and strict discipline under which he had spent his childhood.

He was not academically successful.

His literary ambitions took him to NY, where he supported himself as a freelance newspaperman and completed his first novel: Maggie, a girl of the streets.

He had sketched out a draft of Maggie while he was still a student at Syracuse University, before he had acquired any direct experience of the “wicked city”.

His literary inspiration was stirred by listening to Hamlin Garland lecture on realism in fiction.

He was obsessed with learning more about the actual existence of the people he wrote about, thus he decided to study urban vice in one of the worst slums of NY, the Bowery.

The idea of a dangerous world bordering the genteel neighbourhoods had a peculiar attraction for him, and his journalistic activities allowed him to observe at close hand the shabby tenement districts and the city’s police court.

Maggie is one of the earliest examples of literary determinism in American fiction for “it tries to show that environment is a tremendous thing in the world and frequently shapes lives”.

Its protagonist is an innocent and abused slum girl who is seduced, driven to prostitution and eventually commits suicide.

After being rejected by a number of publishers, the novel was privately printed under a pseudonym, probably to spare embarrassment to Crane’s prominent Methodist family.

The novel was a commercial failure partly because the American public did not welcome this grim exponent of social realism that so authentically recreated sordid slum life.