Hart Crane: A Biography

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9780300090611: Hart Crane: A Biography

Hart Crane's life was notoriously turbulent, persistently nonconformist, and tragically short. Born in 1899, Crane became one of the most significant modernist American poets, yet his self-destructive tendencies - violent outbursts, massive drinking binges, and dangerous sexual pursuits - came to a catastrophic conclusion when at only 32 he threw himself from the stern of an ocean liner into the Gulf of Mexico. This biography presents a full, frank portrait of Hart Crane, a poet attractive both for his flamboyance and passion for life, and for the magnificent sonorities of his work. Clive Fisher mines extant documents left behind by Crane to recount the intertwined stories of the poet's life: his work and the intellectual climate in which he wrote, his urgent and intractable relations with his parents, and his tortured yet incessant quest for emotional stability and love. He considers the autobiographical application of Crane's poems and recreates settings in London, Paris, Cleveland, Cuba and Mexico where he found inspiration. Fisher also redresses injustices to the reputation of Crane's father, Clarence; reintroduces Crane's important friends and their achievements; and without the constraints that hindered previous biographers examines Crane's promiscuity, positioning his activities in the context of the New York gay underworld of his time. The work also explains the suicidal tendencies of Grace Crane, Hart's mother, and recreates the scene of the poet's death with fresh material from documents of those aboard the ship. This biography seeks to provide an authoritative portrait of Hart Crane, a poet whose remarkable work places him among the most important American writers of the 20th century.

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About the Author:

Clive Fisher is a critic whose writings have appeared in numerous publications including The Times (London), Financial Times, and Punch. He is the author of Noel Coward and Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life.

From Library Journal:

Elusive, cryptic, and often bewildering, Harold Hart Crane's poetry demands more than a token effort to comprehend; readers should expect to make a similar investment when trying to understand the man himself. Crane (1899-1932) announced at age 11 that he was going to be a poet, not necessarily good news to his battling, soon-to-be-divorced parents. Feeling abandoned and alone, the psychosomatic Crane attempted suicide as a teenager. In New York, he began a lifelong pattern: writing poetry, living in rented rooms, drinking, developing male friendships (almost exclusively heterosexual), and seeking out homosexual encounters (especially with sailors, which connected him to his great love, the sea). Some of his poetry reflects these encounters in oblique terms, nonetheless revealing loss and regret. Increasingly tortured by drink, Crane managed to maintain a generosity of spirit and a childlike faith in certain ideals of life. There were times when he could not write, but his imagination was never stilled. Crane wandered from New York to London to Paris to Mexico, never finding a resting place until he threw himself from a moving ship into the deadly waters of the Gulf of Mexico. What remains is his poetry. Fisher, author of Noel Coward and Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life, rewards the reader with an exacting book that makes knowing Hart Crane a vivid possibility. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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