Badge of Courage: The Life of Stephen Crane

Linda H. Davis, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $35 (414p) ISBN 978-0-89919-934-4
Early in 1895 Stephen Crane explained his ""double literary life"" to Willa Cather--that he wrote not only what pleased him as serious work but also ""any sort of stuff that would sell."" As for fame and reputation, ""I can't wait ten years. I haven't time."" He had just completed, at 24, The Red Badge of Courage. At 28 he would be dead of tuberculosis. In the few years between he lived recklessly and fully, shows Davis (Onward and Upward). He covered wars in Greece and Cuba after reporting from America's prairie country, Texas and Mexico. He moved to England and lived in grand yet tawdry style in a manor house where, with a former bordello madam who called herself Mrs. Crane but wasn't, he hosted the great names in English letters. In New York City he had already riskily defended a prostitute in print, opposing police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, with whom he would clash while reporting in wartime Cuba. By the end of a rackety life complicated by women, debt and debilitating illness, Crane had published five uneven novels, two books of poetry, numberless pieces of reportage and several notable short stories. He lived and died largely on borrowed money and optimistic expectations. Although Davis exploits little not already in print nor revises the life of Crane, she does make use of the Stanley Wertheim and Paul Sorrentino Crane Log, Crane's own correspondence and R.W. Stallman's standard Stephen Crane. Curiously, little of Crane's own writings are quoted. Illustrated. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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