Linda H. Davis on the Literary Fame and Notorious Exploits of Stephen Crane
This Week on The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Stephen Crane (1871-1900) lived fast, died young, and impressed everyone with his prose style and insight into the human condition. While he’s best known today for his novels The Red Badge of Courage and Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (along with some classic short stories like “The Open Boat,” “The Blue Hotel,” and “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”), his literary fame during his life was supplemented by his notorious exploits. Shipwrecks, romance, scandal, and high-profile court cases—and he somehow also found time to befriend literary lions like H.G. Wells, Ford Madox Ford, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad.
In this episode, Jacke talks to Crane’s biographer Linda H. Davis, whose new book, Badge of Courage: The Life of Stephen Crane, goes deep into the life and mind of the man whose own powers of empathy made him a staple of 20th-century bookshelves and syllabi.