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STEPHEN CRANE REMEMBERED Stanley Wertheim* I cannot help vanishing and disappearing and dissolving. It is my foremost trait. Stephen Crane I spent ten years planning a study of Crane and ended by deciding there was no such animal, although I knew him for eleven years. Henry McBride Three full-length biographies of Stephen Crane have appeared— Thomas Beer's impressionistic montage (1923), John Berryman's critically perceptive but tendentious psychoanalytic study (1950), and R. W. Stallman's imperfectively integrated assemblage of fact and fallacy (1968)—but Crane remains, as he feared he would, largely unexplained, the relationship between his Ufe and art still obscure. He was a highly public and at times flamboyant personaUty, yet paradoxically reclusive and mercurial, retaining his inner identity while projecting widely varied images of himself to others. This elusiveness intrigued Crane's acquaintances, many of whom were motivated (some more than once) to set down their recollections of him. Approximately seventy of these reminiscences, dealing with every aspect of Crane's literary career, are extant, published for die most part in relatively inaccessible periodicals or autobiographies. A number remain in manuscript either in libraries or private collections. Widi his letters they are the primary documents for Crane's life, but none of his biographers has fully understood the need to reconcile their conflicting perspectives and accounts of events, and this to a great extent is responsible for the multifold inconsistencies and inaccuracies which continue to plague Crane biography. Each of the four memoirs published here for the first time provides significant new information about an important phase in Crane's life and helps to resolve contradictions and ambiguities posed by other contemporary accounts. The reminiscences of Nelson Greene, "Stanley Wertheim is an Associate Professor of English at William Paterson College. His articles on Crane have appeared in such journals as The Literary Review, American Literary Realism, and Literature and Psychology. He edited Studies in "Maggie" and "George's Mother" and was co-author (with Theodore L. Gross) of Hawthorne, MelviUe, Stephen Crane: A Critical Bibliography. He is currently workingon a study of expatriation in American literature. 46Stanley Wertheim Walter Parker, and Mark Barr were all composed after the pubUcation of Thomas Beer's biography. These memoirs and "Cora Crane's Note Book" had not as yet been deposited in library collections at the time of John Berryman's writing and were unavailable to him. None of them was apparently known to R. W. Stallman.1 Nelson ("Ned") Greene was one of several young artists and illustrators, among them Frederick C. Gordon, Edward S. Hamilton, R. G. Vosburgh, and David Ericson, with whom Crane shared quarters in the old Needham building on East 23rd Street in Manhattan at various times from the autumn of 1893 through the autumn of 1895. Crane spent most of the summer of 1893 at his brother Edmund's house in Lake View, New Jersey, hard at work on The Red Badge of Courage. When he returned to New York City in October, he moved in with the group which had remained in the rambling, gloomy structure after the Art Students' League had moved into their new building on 57th Street.2 Here and in other studios and lofts where he found temporary shelter, Crane completed The Red Badge and much of the poetry of The Bhck Riders. He described his bohemian life among these "Indians," as he called them, in The Third Violet and in two short sketches, "Stories Told by an Artist" and "The Silver Pageant." It was a poverty stricken but essentially carefree existence. Crane told Hamlin Garland that "they all slept on the floor, dined off buns and sardines, and painted on towels or wrapping paper for lack of canvas."3 Nelson Greene's memoir of these experiences was composed in September of 1944 for Max Herzberg, President of the Stephen Crane Association of Newark. Editorial emendations in the eight-page typescript in the Newark Public Library indicate that it is a copy of an original which is missing. Written almost fifty years after the events described, Greene's recollections are remarkable in their vividness and accuracy of detail. As he relates, after Greene's relationship with Crane...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 45-64
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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