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Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire [Hardcover]

Paul Sorrentino

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Book Description

3 Jun 2014
With the exception of Poe, no American writer has proven as challenging to biographers as the author of The Red Badge of Courage." Stephen Crane's short, compact life--"a life of fire," he called it--continues to be surrounded by myths and half-truths, distortions and outright fabrications. Mindful of the pitfalls that have marred previous biographies, Paul Sorrentino has sifted through garbled chronologies and contradictory eyewitness accounts, scoured the archives, and followed in Crane's footsteps. The result is the most complete and accurate account of the poet and novelist written to date. Whether Crane was dressing as a hobo to document the life of the homeless in the Bowery, defending a prostitute against corrupt New York City law enforcement, or covering the historic charge up the San Juan hills as a correspondent during the Spanish-American War, his adventures were front-page news. From Sorrentino's layered narrative of the various phases of Crane's life a portrait slowly emerges. By turns taciturn and garrulous, confident and insecure, romantic and cynical, Crane was a man of irresolvable contradictions. He rebelled against tradition yet was proud of his family heritage; he lived a Bohemian existence yet was drawn to social status; he romanticized women yet obsessively sought out prostitutes; he spurned a God he saw as remote yet wished for His presence. Incorporating decades of research by the foremost authority on Crane's work, Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire" sets a new benchmark for biographers.

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Stephen Crane seemed elusive to his contemporaries, and he proved equally elusive to generations of biographers. At last, Paul Sorrentino has produced a scrupulously reliable biography that is also wonderfully concise and colorful. It will stand for the foreseeable future as the definitive account of Crane's life. --Michael Robertson, author of "Stephen Crane, Journalism, and the Making of Modern American Literature"

Sorrentino s A Life of Fire is a quieter book, faithful to the record, free of bossy instruction to the reader on what to think or feel. --London Review of Books

Sorrentino s A Life of Fire is a quieter book, faithful to the record, free of bossy instruction to the reader on what to think or feel. --London Review of Books

As every Crane biographer learns, the archive of letters, diaries and other materials on him is exasperatingly thin - a vacuum that promoted his first biographer, Thomas Beer, writing in 1923, to invent incidents and forge documents that would prove dangerously attractive to later writers. Sorrentino deists their allure, but also recognises that Crane s opacity is essential to his identity. --Times Literary Supplement

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography of Stephen Crane 26 Sep 2014
By Hankm1974 - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I only have read two books of Cranes back in high school. But I find him in this book utterly charming and quite the rogue. Whip smart and extremely talented, he was a classic brilliant artist. Well versed in his craft, but completely without common sense. However, he is still a literary lion and proved he had a touch with the common man and woman,from the Tenderloin to the U.S. Marines in Cuba. Amazing that he lasted as long as he did with Consumption, Yellow Fever and a nasty anal fistula/abscess. This just shows how much real mettle he had. And for the record, I believe he loved Cora very much, it was a match made in heaven.
4.0 out of 5 stars The diverse, short life of an enormous talent 26 Sep 2014
By Thomas Cushing - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read the red badge of courage as a teenager and admired it. In the back of the book the publisher had included some poems by Crane. I thought at the time that the poems were spectacular . Reading this biography confirmed Crane's reputation as a poet as well as reporter and novelist. A short career that burned perhaps too brightly ..
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