A Girl of the Streets and Other Short Fiction
By Stephen Crane
(Bantam Classics, Mass Market Paperback, 9780553213553, 240pp.)
Publication Date: February 1, 1986
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Not yet famous for his Civil War masterpiece, The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane was unable to find a publisher for his brilliant Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, finally printing it himself in 1893.
Condemned and misunderstood during Crane’s lifetime, this starkly realistic story of a pretty child of the Bowery has since been recognized as a landmark work in American fiction.
Now Crane’s great short novel of life in turn-of-the-century New York is published in its original form, along with four of Crane’s best short stories–The Blue Hotel, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, The Monster, and The Open Boat–stories of such remarkable power and clarity that they stand among the finest short stories ever written by an American.
Stephen Crane was born, in 1871, in Newark, New Jersey. Raised in a strict Methodist household, he rebelled Openly, developing a strong and lasting attraction to the vices his parents had condemned. He attempted college twice, the second time failing a theme-writing course while writing articles for newspapers such as the New York Tribune. In 1892 Crane moved to the poverty of New York City’s Lower East Side–the Bowery so vividly depicted in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Destitute and depressed after the initial failure of that book, Crane had almost decided to abandon his writing and find a suitable trade when word came to him that William Dean Howells had read Maggie, and admired it, going so far as to compare Crane to Tolstoy.
Elated, Crane continued his work, and in 1894 the serial publication began of The Red Badge of Courage, his acclaimed and widely popular novel of a young soldier’s coming of age in the Civil War. In 1895 he toured the western United Stated and Mexico, and his experiences soon found form in such short stories as The Blue Hotel and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. Bound for Cuba in January of 1897, Crane and three companions survived a shipwreck off the Gulf Coast; the ordeal was the basis for his masterful story The Open Boat. He then traveled to Greece as a correspondent and returned to Cuba to report on the Spanish-American War. At twenty-eight, in failing health, Crane traveled from England to Germany to recuperate the healing atmosphere of The Black Forest. He died there while working on a humorous novel, The O’Ruddy, in June of 1900.