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Gabriel Josipovici enthusiastically mentioned reading Stephen Crane in last year's Books of the Year symposium here at ReadySteadyBook: "what a great writer he was! Not just The Red Badge, which is indeed one of the great books about war, up there with The Iliad and War and Peace, even though it is less than a hundred and fifty pages long, but also such short stories as The Open Boat and The Blue Hotel. In fact everything he touched he turned to gold."


Where Gabriel goes we follow; and Richard is already on the trail:


I was struck by the fact that Crane was born November 1, 1871. That is, four months after Marcel Proust (born July 10, 1871). Younger than Proust! In my mind, where Proust feels present, his concerns relevant, Crane has always seemed locked in the dusty past -- not only were some of his writings required reading in grade school, but the subject of his most famous novel, The Red Badge of Courage, is the Civil War. His association with this war is so complete, I think, that it has only served to reinforce the sense I had of him belonging to a much earlier period than he does. In truth, of course, Crane's realism was innovative in its time, and I can see now that it stands as a precursor to the writing of some of the historical Modernists, Hemingway in particular (more...)

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