402 “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

After being given $700 in Spanish gold by some newspapers, a 25-year-old Stephen Crane set out for Florida, where he planned to travel by boat to Cuba and cover the impending Spanish-American War as a war correspondent. But the steamship he boarded capsized after hitting some sandbars, forcing Crane and 28 shipmates – most of them arms runners friendly to the Cuban insurrectionists – into lifeboats and head into the open sea. Crane was one of the last to leave, and he wound up sharing a dinghy with the ship’s captain and two others. While he didn’t get to cover the war, the story of the four men, who struggled for days to survive without being rescued, helped add to Crane’s growing literary fame. In this episode, Jacke explores (and reads in its entirety) the classic Stephen Crane story of shipwreck, “The Open Boat.”

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399 Stephen Crane (with Linda H. Davis)

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 twentieth-century bookshelves and syllabi.

Additional reading suggestions:

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

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