Sunday, November 1, 2009
It's Stephen Crane's birthday. He was born in 1871 and died in 1900 at age 28. Several diseases and conditions conspired to kill him, but his life had already worn him to the bone. He went everywhere covering wars and exploring hardships, acquiring yellow fever and malaria and no doubt a level of pessimism that made it harder to survive his illnesses. A Book of Ages began with the details of his short life. I was curious about people who lived to be famous and then died young. He appears in the book four times, writing his masterpiece at age 24, being shipwrecked, marrying a former bordello owner, settling in England, writing his way out of serial poverty––he told a friend he couldn't afford a typewriter. Stephen Crane is the model for every modern writer-adventurer, the reckless youths who travel to dangerous places and eat strange things and write about them for our safe amusement.