Hart Crane: An Introduction and Interpretation


The generation of writers to which Hart Crane belonged grew up in the 1920's in a curious "mid-kingdom." Confronted as they were in the unsettled period after the First World War by an outdated Victorian morality wedded to an amoral world of burgeoning American business, these writers came to maturity in a society they had already outgrown. They had to find their way through the woods, and it was not altogether surprising that many of them momentarily or permanently lost their direction. A good number of Crane's contemporaries chose the path of least resistance. They were the ones who created what has remained the stereotyped impression of the "twenties"--an image of the flapper superimposed upon the shallow and crumbling world of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby. Yet, there were a few who chose another road. Riled by the dehumanizing values of H. L. Mencken's boobus americanus, these young men and women accepted the challenge of forging for themselves a place in a society that had not only excluded them but was also indifferent to them. From this group emerged the essayists, novelists, and poets who would create the abiding literature of those nameless years.

The problems challenging the writers of the twenties were awesome. Not the least of their troubles was that they were uniquely unsuited to Main Street. The petite bourgeoisie tended to regard the serious writer as one who simply did not "belong," who did not pay the expected obeisance to the accepted values of the time.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1963


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