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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hart Crane: Selected full-text books and articles

Hart Crane: After His Lights By Brian M. Reed University of Alabama Press, 2006
O My Land, My Friends: The Selected Letters of Hart Crane By Paul Bowles; Langdon Hammer; Brom Weber; Langdon Hammer 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 By 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 By 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 By 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 By 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 By Maria DiBattista; Lucy McDiarmid Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "T.S. Eliot and Hart Crane" begins on p. 49
The Columbia History of American Poetry By 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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