The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XI. The Later Novel: Howells

§ 30. Stephen Crane

Crane was a genius who intensely admired Tolstoy and somewhat febrilely aimed at absolute truthfulness in his fiction. Maggie A Girl of the Streets (1896), written when he was but twenty-one, gave a horrible picture of a degenerate Irish family in New York and the tragedy of its eldest daughter; its violent plain speaking seemed very new when it appeared. Crane’s great success, however, attended The Red Badge of Courage An Episode of the American Civil War (1895), a reconstruction, by a man who at the time of writing knew war only from books, of the mental states of a recruit when first under fire. A greater war has made the theme widely familiar, but Crane’s performance still seems more than an amazingly clever tour de force; it is a real feat of the imagination.