For one to fully understand what an author writes, the reader must first examine the author himself. To do this, one must consider the author’s early years, education, interests, experiences, etc. Stephen Crane, an American author, is no exception.
Stephen Crane, the author of The Red Badge of Courage, did not have the best of childhood’s. Being the yo7ungest of 14 children, Crane was born on November 1, 1871. His father, a Methodist minister, died when Crane was nine, leaving his mother no choice but to move. Stephen moved three times when he was a child in the New York area (online service: www.en.utexas.edu).
Crane was a very intelligent man, although he didn’t show it as a student. In fact, in Cliffs Notes on Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, it was stated that “crane was more interested in learning unusual words, especially swear words, drinking beer, and playing poker and baseball”(5). Crane attended several schools, two of which he flunked out of.
After deciding that school wasn’t his best choice, Crane moved to New York City, where he worked for a business office for a short time. He quickly quit and began reporting for two city newspapers. Crane’s brother Townley saw his talents in writing and landed him a job on the Tribune.
Stephen Crane then put out his first significant piece of writing, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893). This book was rejected by all publishers and had to be privately printed. One year later, Crane finished his new novel, The Red Badge of Courage, which wasn’t published in book form until 1895. This would prove to be Stephen’s most famous piece of literature.
After knowing about the author, the reader must not merely read the literature, but read into it. Focusing on Crane’s most famous novel, one should be able to recognize themes literary techniques and general issues that Crane uses.
The Red Badge of Courage is a novel based on a real battle in the Civil War. Many critics agree with George Wyndam when he noted in his 1896 essay, “ Mr. Stephen Crane, the author of The Red Badge of Courage…, is a great artist with something new to say, and consequently, with a new way of saying it” (TCLC 121), and , “… in The Red Badge of Courage Mr. Crane has surely contrived a masterpiece” (121).
It is to be thought that Crane has succeeded in his goals, for in one of his letters he stated, “And my chiefest desire was to write plainly and unmistakably, so that all men (and some woman) might read and understand. That to my mind is good writing” (TCLC 123). Few men can prove a statement of Crane’s writing not being good.
Crane’s best and most noticeable trait is his ability to put the reader in the scene. His descriptions are so in-depth, that Crane leaves little room for one to use their own imagination in creating a setting.
Crane has found a way to describe details without giving a lot of general information. This can be seen in the main character of The Red Badge of Courage for Crane lets the reader feel as though he knows him well, without even using his name.
After taking into consideration all of this information the reader should have a better understanding of Stephen Crane and his works. Stephen Crane was a brilliant author, and without him and his works there would be a great gap in American literature.