2007 Queries

Serial version of Red BadgeIs the serialized version of “The Red Badge of Courage” printed in the New York “Press” available and if so how can I access it?

John Casey, UIC Department of English

Joseph Katz’s The Red Badge of Courage. Facsimile of Newspaper Printings. Gainseville, FL: Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 1967 is a difficult book to obtain but should be available through inter-library loan. There are also photographic reprints and discussion of the newspaper printings in my dissertation, NYU 1963.–Stanley Wertheim, 12/24/07

Note: You can find the location of the nearest library that owns this work by using the WorldCat Search Feature on the bibliography page of this site. –Donna Campbell

Are there any photographs of THE COMMODORE?Are there any existing photos of the ship COMMODORE of “The Open Boat” fame?Thanks,
Frank Coffman
Prof. of English and Journalism
Rock Valley College, Rockford, IL


There are a number of extant photographs of the Commodore. The most accessible is provided by the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Museum at: http://www.ponceinlet.org/history-stephencrane.html. The museum also shows an accurate water color representation of the boat at: http://www.volusia.com/crane/.
–Stanley Wertheim12/22/07
Stephen Crane Award WinnersI just read Howard Bahr’s “The Black Flower”, which I believe was nominated for/won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. Could you send me a list of other winners through the years? 11-11-07 The Stephen Crane First Fiction Award is granted annually by the Book-of-the-Month Club to recognize an outstanding first work of fiction in the English language. The name of the award seems quite arbitrary; there is no apparent relationship to Stephen Crane. You will need to write to the Club to obtain a list of winners of this award.
–Stanley Wertheim11/21/07


I’ve written to the Book of the Month Club for a list of winners but have received no response. –Donna Campbell

Discrepancy in versions of The Red Badge of CourageI’ve understood that the most authoritative version of The Red Badge of Courage is Fredson Bowers’s University of Virginia edition. In both this edition and the facsimile manuscript that Bowers edited, a word used in chapter 6 differs from every other edition I’ve consulted, including the Norton Critical edition edited by Pizer. In the eighteenth paragraph of this chapter, Bowers has, “The words that comrades had uttered previous to the firing began to appear to him”; Pizer and others have, “The words that comrades had uttered previous to the firing began to recur to him.”

I’m trying to discover why there is a discrepancy between the two version. Can this be attributed to the difference between the manuscript and the 1895 Appleton edition?

Best, Brian Croxall 11-10-07

This is a very complicated question and can be answered here only partially: Readers of The Red Badge of Courage who are unfamiliar with the textual controversies surrounding Stephen Crane’s classic Civil War novel usually assume that they are reading essentially the same book as any other reader. This is, however, an unwarranted assumption since the novel now exists in a number of formats, as do many important American literary works of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The University of Press of Virginia’s edition of The Red Badge, edited by Fredson Bowers, is a text reconstructed on W. W. Greg’s principles of copy-text. It is not a reprint of any single document. The Greg theory of copy-text holds that a modern editor should choose as his working text the version that was most under the author’s control, which would probably be a manuscript when one is available, and that he should emend that text whenever in his judgment there is evidence from an earlier or later version or from any other source, including his own insight and understanding, that the author’s final intentions were at variance with the copy-text. A critical edition should, therefore, consist of an emended or eclectic text, rather than the literal transcription of any one document, and an apparatus that records the variants. In short, a critical or eclectic text is a text never seen by the author or his contemporaries, a text that never previously existed. It is a synthesis of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual decisions governing wording and punctuation by an editor or editors working under the assumption in each instance that they are restoring the author’s intention or final intention.For example, part of Crane’s manuscript revisions of The Red Badge consisted of inconsistently normalizing the dialect speech of his three major characters-Henry Fleming, Jim Conklin, and Wilson (meaning that he turned their dialect into standard English)-and, equally inconsistently, the dialect of some of the other characters. Beginning with Chapter 9 and increasingly after Chapter 13, however, Crane seems to have strengthened an already half-formed resolve to normalize the speech of the youth and to retain dialect forms in the speech of the other soldiers. Concluding that this was Crane’s final intention, Bowers normalized the speech of the three major characters, whether Crane had done so or not, and rendered the speech of the other characters into dialect, even when Crane had written their dialogue in standard English. Because of Bowers’ relentless regularization and normalization, his text of The Red Badge, like his patchwork version of Maggie, has been virtually ignored. The edition edited by Donald Pizer is a faithful reprint of the 1895 Appleton first edition, with emendations of typographical and editorial errors. This is an excellent text, and one on which you can rely.

–Stanley Wertheim, 11/12/07

Stephen Crane CopyrightsI’m a composer from Perth, Western Australia, and I was hoping that you’d be able to direct me to the Copyright Owner for the poems of Stephen Crane as I would like to set one of his poems to music.Any information you could provide would be most helpful.


Simon Holt 9/29/07

There is no need to secure permission to reprint Crane’s poems, which are in the public domain.–Stanley Wertheim, 9/30/07
“An Ominous Baby”I am a Middle School teacher that has taught “An Ominous Baby”
several times in Socratic Seminars, where we delve deeply into the meaning of texts. This year, I feel like we (I) have hit a wall as to the meaning of the story. Did Crane say anything about this story?
Are there “traditional” interpretations? What are some of your thoughts? Thanks!All the best,

Charles Fischer
Sparhawk School 9/29/07

Crane seldom made any comment about his fictional works that went beyond complaining that he was paid too little for them. It would hardly take a Socratic seminar to interpret “An Ominous Baby,” which really seems to speak for itself, but a general knowledge of Crane’s life and times, especially the depression of 1893, and the place of the story in Crane’s New York slum fiction, might help. These insights can be derived from the many critical books on Stephen Crane to be found in most research libraries.–Stanley Wertheim, 9/30/07
List of Crane’s Short StoriesCould you direct me to any online site that includes a full (or as complete as possible) bibliography of Crane’s short stories, with dates of composition and date/place of first publication? (hopefully listed in chronological order!)Do you know how many short stories Crane wrote altogether?

Thanks so much

Bob Common


Nobody knows “how many short stories Crane wrote altogether” since many of his stories first appeared in newspapers, and before The Red Badge of Courage projected him into fame, he was seldom given a byline. There are consequently a good number of disputed attributions. There is no checklist of Crane’s short fiction, but there are a number of books on the subject. I would recommendMilne Holton, Cylinder of Vision: The Fiction and Journalistic Writing of Stephen Crane, 1972 and Michael W. Schaefer, A Reader’s Guide to the Short Stories of Stephen Crane, 1996.–Stanley Wertheim, 9/30/07
Good Modern Biography of Crane?I just found out about Stephen Crane via an HG Wells biography and the Wells/Crane events of December 31, 1899. I had known the Crane name but never read him. Now I am fascinated by Crane’s writing (especially the poetry) and his short life. What is a good (modern) biography to read? Thirsting to know more….

Andrew Repasky McElhinney 6/21/07

While there are a number of book-length biographies of Stephen Crane, it is difficult to endorse any of them categorically. The most readable and objective is probably Linda H. Davis’ Badge of Courage: The Life of Stephen Crane (1998). For the accuracy of specific facts, it would be prudent to consult Stanley Wertheim and Paul Sorrentino’s The Crane Log: A Documentary Life of Stephen Crane(1994).–Stanley Wertheim, 6/24/07
Did Crane Write Dramas?Just a question for my own benefit–not many people interested in this I suppose–

Did Crane write any dramas (genre)? If so, could you point me to any of them?


Jamie Libby Boyle


Crane despised the popular romantic plays of his time, replete with inauthentic situations and false emotions, such as those to which Pete takes Maggie in
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. In “Some Hints for Play-Makers,” printed in the 4 November 1893 issue of the humor magazine Truth,* he mockingly presents “a few valuable receipts” for such plays. Crane did dabble in the drama. “The Fire-Tribe and the Pale-Face” remains as a fragment of a play Crane abandoned in favor of a short story, “The Fire-Tribe and the White-face,” which also survives only as an uncompleted fragment. Also surviving are an untitled and unfinished script for a dramatic farce satirizing the swashbuckling romantic style of Alexander Dumas whose setting is a French tavern and another untitled and uncompleted fragment of a play set on is a sugar plantation in the province of Santiago de Cuba at the close of the Cuban War. In early 1898 Crane proposed that he and Conrad collaborate on a play to be called “The Predecessor,”but Conrad was reluctant, insisting that he had no gift for drama. Crane’s only successful dramatic effort was the libretto for a musical comedy, farce, and burlesque, “The Ghost,” performed only once in the Brede village schoolhouse on the evening of 28 December 1899 and never published.–Stanley Wertheim, 6/23/07
Information on Stephen CraneWho as Steven Crane in the world of Literature? I need information on Stephen Crane who was a unique American free form writer, poet, and journalist. Any and All help is greatly appreciated. I have a project that I need help on and have been working on this for weeks. It is due this Thursday. Thank you! Please respond asap. foster_denise at aclink.org or animal-luvrs at comcast.net

Denise Foster 5/10/07

Crane and Red Badge in Colored Ink?A while back someone told me that Crane had requested that all the color words in _The Red Badge of Courage_ be printed in colored ink (e.g., “red” printed in red ink, etc.). I haven’t been able to find any documentation about this, though. Do you know if this is true and, if so, where I could find out more about this request?Thanks,

Nick Gaskill


Crane never requested that the color words in The Red Badge be printed in the colors designated by these words. Crane despised aestheticism and affectation in art and would not have made a request, that would undermine the serious literary objectives of his novel. Furthermore, while it would be technically possible to print such a book in the 1890s, it would not have been feasible to do so, nor would a serious publisher like Appleton undertake such a frivolous project.
–Stanley Wertheim, 5/15/07
“The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”: the boot hole in sandI’ve wondered about that image: why is it so riveting in a such a sensory manner?

Today, I was walking down a sandy road. My boot heel sank into the sand. If the wind had been blowing and my heel had been more pointed, a similar motion would have occurred. As I looked at the sand, I was reminded of Keats’ Ozymandias and his short tenure, the sand in wind being the reducer, the equalizer to his ego, a restoration of balance. Perhaps a similar transcience was Crane’s concept in creating such a powerful image.

I haven’t read the story in many years, but that boot heel in the sand stayed with me.

I look forward to any conversation forthcoming.

Linda Kay Behrend
linda@curlyqranch.com 3/31/07

Yes, I believe Crane was echoing Keats’ use of a familiar metaphor. Crane’s story opens with Marshall Jack Potter and his bride returning by train to his home town of Yellow Sky, Texas, from San Antonio, where they have recently been married. The train is traveling westward, and, as perceived from the windows of the plush Pullman car, “the plains of Texas were pouring eastward,” a coup d’oeil in which Crane objectifies the precipitous retreat of the Old West before the encroachment of Eastern civilization. As Scratchy leaves the scene of the failed confrontation, his feet form “funnel-shaped tracks in the heavy sand.” Like the sands of an hourglass, time has run out for the classic Wild-West confrontation of the lawman and the gunfighter, and human efforts to impose ordered patterns on the vicissitudes of existence are merely imprints on the sands of time.

Stanley Wertheim 4/18/07
Crane and Blackwood’sI have question regarding Stallman’s collection of Crane letters (N.Y. University Press, 1960). In a letter to James B. Pinker (Crane’s agent in England) dated Feb. 4, 1899, Crane writes, “‘God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” is coming on finely. If you conclude that ‘The Angel Child’ is not a good opening gun, bury it in the heather i.e. send it to Blackwood.”First off, as he refers to it as a sort of dumping ground for weaker stories, I assume that this reveals Crane’s negative view of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine at that time. Am I correct in this assumption?

And secondly, for what project was “The Angel Child” supposed to be the “opening gun?” Did Crane end up burying it “in the heather” of Blackwood’s, or did it appear elsewhere in England first?

Thanks for the insights!
Jeff, borli001@d.umn.edu, 2/15/07

“The Angel Child” was the opening gun, meaning the first story in Crane’s volume of The Whilomville Stories (1900) and as such appeared first in the series in its periodical publication in Harpers New Monthly Magazine (August 1899). Crane did not want to publish his work in the provincialBlackwood’s Edinburgh Review, but he owed William Blackwood money. Crane secured an advance of £60 from Blackwood s to pay his passage across the Atlantic to report on the Cuban war.Blackwood’s published “The Price of the Harness” in its December 1898 issue but rejected “The Lone Charge of William B. Perkins,” “The Clan of No Name,” and “Marines Signalling under Fire at Guantanamo.” On the advice of his London agent David Meldrum, Blackwood also declined “The Blue Hotel,” and he refused to advance Crane more money.–Stanley Wertheim, 2/20/07

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