Hart Crane

Hart Crane (Harold Hart Crane), 1899–1932, American poet, b. Garrettsville, Ohio. He published only two volumes of poetry during his lifetime, but those works established Crane as one of the most original and vital American poets of the 20th cent. His extraordinarily complex, visionary, and sonorous poetry, with its rich imagery, verbal ingenuity, frequent obscurity, and meticulous craftsmanship, combines ecstatic optimism with a sense of haunted alienation. White Buildings (1926), his first collection of poems, was inspired by his experience of New York City, where he had gone to live at the age of 17. His most ambitious work is The Bridge (1930), a series of closely related long poems on the United States in which the Brooklyn Bridge serves as a mystical unifying symbol of civilization's evolution.

Crane's personal life was anguished and turbulent. After an unhappy childhood during which he was torn between estranged parents, he held a variety of uninteresting jobs, always, however, returning to New York City and his writing. An alcoholic and a homosexual, he was constantly plagued by money problems and was often a severe trial to friends who tried to help him. In 1931 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and went to Mexico to work on a long poem about Latin America; a year later, returning by ship to the United States, the poem not even started, he jumped overboard and drowned. His collected poems were published in 1933.

See Hart Crane: Complete Poems and Selected Letters (2006), ed. by L. Hammer; letters ed. by T. S. W. Lewis (1974); O My Land, My Friends (1997), selected letters, ed. by L. Hammer and B. Weber; The Correspondence between Hart Crane and Waldo Frank (1998), ed. by S. H. Cook; biographies by P. Horton (new ed. 1957), J. Unterecker (1969, repr. 1987), P. Mariani (1999), and C. Fisher (2002); studies by R. W. B. Lewis (1967), M. D. Uroff (1974), R. Combs (1978), D. R. Clark, ed. (1982), A. Trachtenberg, ed. (1982), H. Bloom, ed. (1986), M. F. Bennett (1987), W. Berthoff (1989), T. E. Yingling (1990), B. Reed (2006), G. A. Tapper (2006), and J. T. Irwin (2011).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Hart Crane: The Life of An American Poet
Philip Horton.
Viking Press, 1957
Hart Crane: An Introduction and Interpretation
Samuel Hazo.
Barnes & Noble, 1963
Hart Crane: After His Lights
Brian M. Reed.
University of Alabama Press, 2006
Hart Crane's Harp of Evil: A Study of Orphism in the Bridge
Jack C. Wolf.
Whitston, 1986
O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane
Paul Bowles; Langdon Hammer; Langdon Hammer; Brom Weber.
Four Walls Eight Windows, 1997
The Mentor Book of Major American Poets: From Edward Taylor and Walt Whitman to Hart Crane and W. H. Auden
Oscar Williams; Edwin Honig; Edwin Honig; Edwin Honig.
New American Library, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "Hart Crane (1899-1932)" begins on p. 464
Lectures on Some Modern Poets
Margaret Foster Leclair; Beekman W. Cottrell; Erwin R. Steinberg; A. Fred Sochatoff; Dorothy W. Goodfellow.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1955
Librarian’s tip: "Hart Crane: Poet of the Machine Age" begins on p. 3
Modern Verse in English, 1900-1950
David Cecil; Allen Tate.
Macmillan, 1958
Librarian’s tip: "Hart Crane (Am. 1899-1932)" begins on p. 427
The Other Orpheus: A Poetics of Modern Homosexuality
Merrill Cole.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "Perversion's Permanent Target: Hart Crane and the Uses of Memory"
High and Low Moderns: Literature and Culture, 1889-1939
Maria DiBattista; Lucy McDiarmid.
Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "T.S. Eliot and Hart Crane" begins on p. 49
The Metamorphic Tradition in Modern Poetry: Essays on the Work of Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Hart Crane, Randall Jarrell, and William Butler Yeats
M. Bernetta Quinn.
Rutgers University Press, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Eliot and Crane: Protean Techniques"
The Columbia History of American Poetry
Jay Parini; Brett C. Millier.
Columbia University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Hart Crane's Difficult Passage" begins on p. 419
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