Monday, December 5, 2011

What have you read by Stephen Crane?

Me, nothing. But let me tell you how I learned of this author, and moreover why I intend to read him ASAP.

I have picked up a book by Ernest Himingway which purports to be nearly-nonfiction. (My Hemingway is to round out the fact I haven't read him before, and especially to offset my recent sci-fi indulgences such as Opar and Gateway.)

In this book, Green Hills of Africa, Hemingway, speaking as himself, tells a guest his opinions on American literature, naming many authors and titles. At one point he explicitly says that the best American authors are... drum roll please...Mark Twain, Henry James, and Stephen Crane. Well, that took me a bit by suprise. I'm quite familiar with Twain, and have a passing familiarity with Henry James (although good, I hadn't expected him to be ranked as an "American best"). But Stephen Crane was a new one to me. Ichabod Crane, perhaps, but Stephen?

With a little internet research, I see he is the Red Badge of Courage guy. Ah, so I have heard of him, or rather his work. However, I am told by Hemingway his best two are The Blue Hotel and The Open Boat.

Hemingway also mentions Valéry as one of the best non-English authors. I assume he meant Paul Valéry from his Wikipedia fame. That's one of my next missions. Hey, I have made progress on my to-do list.

He also listed Huckleberry Finn as the best American book, or at least never surpassed. He suggests that the reader skip the ending of the book, though, putting it down once the slave Jim has been recaptured, as I recall. This isn't such a suprise, although it continues to impress me.


  1. i read the red badge of courage and the open boat in high school but nothing since. i had the kids read the red badge of courage when they were in school. i just went to wikipedia and read the article on him and hadn't remembered him dying that young. it amazes me how much some people accomplish in so little time.

  2. Oh, I have a copy of The Red Badge of Courage! I read it as a kid, it's time for a re-read.