on 27 March 2013
When Stephen Crane started work on "The Red Badge of Courage" he had just published
"Maggie: A Girl of the Streets" and was instantly proclaimed internationally as one
of the new breed of modern realistic writers. W. Somerset Maugham must have been
influenced by this book when he wrote his sensational first novel "Liza of Lambeth"
- especially when you compare the very similar endings.
The character of Maggie I found sketchy as far as characterization went but the
description of the depressing poverty and the street life of the Bowery of the 1890s
is brilliantly brought to life. Throughout the novella Maggie retains her goodness and
innocence - the child of a brutal father and a drunken mother, her younger brother
Jimmie is already a seasoned street fighter but when she meets Pete she believes he
is her white knight but how wrong she is.
The other stories include "The Monster" one of the first stories that has a white writer
portraying a black man performing a heroic act. When Henry Johnson rescues Jimmy from a
burning house Dr. Trescott, in turn, saves Henry's life but Henry has been left with
horrific burns and he becomes "the monster" of the title and is eventually ostracized by
There are three terrific western stories - "The Blue Hotel", I have seen in a couple of
anthologies and is the best known.
"His New Mittens" deals with that crisis from childhood - running away from home. Horace
is fed up with his treatment at home and decides to run away. He gets as far as the
butcher's next door but Crane's vivid description shows that Horace is loved and wanted
after all. The title "An Illusion in Red and White" says it all and is a chilling account
of how young children can be manipulated by an evil father.
on 18 September 2013
The previous reviewer says it all for me. I would add that if you like to hear authentic voices from the past, this is a little gem. Short stories that have a big impact. Love the "Bowery" accents. I remember the films of the Saturday cinema for kids with the "Bowery Boys" and on beginning Maggie I could hear them again. Extremely well written a taste of the gritty reality of America's past, poverty, violence and fight for survival.