The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure (1898) contains thirteen short stories that deal with three periods in Crane's life: his Asbury Park boyhood, his trip to the West and Mexico in 1895 and his Cuban adventure in 1897. This collection was well received and included several of his most critically successful works. This collection of Stephen Crane stories contains "The Open Boat" and the following stories:
A Man and Some Others
One Dash Horses
The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
The Wise Men
Death and the Child
The Five White Mice
"The Open Boat" is a short story by American author Stephen Crane. First published in 1897, it was based on Crane's experience of surviving a shipwreck off the coast of Florida earlier that year while traveling to Cuba to work as a newspaper correspondent. Crane was stranded at sea for thirty hours when his ship, the SS Commodore, sank after hitting a sandbar. He and three other men were forced to navigate their way to shore in a small boat; one of the men, an oiler named Billie Higgins, drowned after the boat overturned. Crane's personal account of the shipwreck and the men's survival, titled "Stephen Crane's Own Story", was first published a few days after his rescue.
Crane subsequently adapted his report into narrative form, and the resulting short story "The Open Boat" was published in Scribner's Magazine. The story is told from the point of view of an anonymous correspondent, Crane's fictional doppelgänger, and the action closely resembles the author's experiences after the shipwreck. A volume titled The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure was published in the United States in 1898; an edition entitled The Open Boat and Other Stories was published simultaneously in England. Praised for its innovation by contemporary critics, the story is considered an exemplary work of literary Naturalism, and is one of the most frequently discussed works in Crane's canon. It is notable for its use of imagery, irony, symbolism, and the exploration of such themes as survival, solidarity, and the conflict between man and nature. H. G. Wells considered "The Open Boat" to be "beyond all question, the crown of all Crane's work".
Although autobiographical in nature, "The Open Boat" is a work of fiction; it is often considered a principal example of Naturalism, an offshoot of the Realist literary movement, in which scientific principles of objectivity and detachment are applied to the study of human characteristics. While a majority of critics agree that the story acts as a paradigm of the human situation, they disagree as to its precise nature. Some believe the story affirms man's place in the world by concentrating on the characters' isolation, while others—including those who call "The Open Boat" ideologically Symbolist—insist that the story questions man's place in the universe through metaphorical or indirect means.
Like other major works by Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat" contains numerous examples of symbolism, imagery and metaphor. Vibrant descriptions of color, combined with simple, clear writing, are also apparent throughout, and humor in the form of irony serves in stark opposition to the dreary setting and desperate characters. Editor Vincent Starrett stated in his introduction to the 1921 collection of Crane's work entitled Men, Women and Boats that the author keeps "down the tone where another writer might have attempted 'fine writing' and have been lost." Other critics have noted similarities between the story and shipwreck-related articles Crane wrote while working as a reporter for the New York Tribune earlier in his career. Articles such as "The Wreck of the New Era", which describes a group of castaways drowning in sight of a helpless crowd, and "Ghosts on the Jersey Coast" contain stark imagery that strongly prefigures that of "The Open Boat".
Stephen Crane (November 1, 1871 – June 5, 1900) was an American novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism. He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation.
The eighth surviving child of Methodist Protestant parents, Crane began writing at the age of four and had published several articles by the age of 16. Having little interest in university studies, he left school in 1891 and began work as a reporter and writer. Crane's first novel was the 1893 Bowery tale Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which critics generally consider the first work of American literary Naturalism. He won international acclaim for his 1895 Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, which he wrote without any battle experience.
In 1896, Crane endured a highly publicized scandal after acting as witness for a suspected prostitute. Late that year he accepted an offer to cover the Spanish-American War as a war correspondent. As he waited in Jacksonville, Florida for passage to Cuba, he met Cora Taylor, the madam of a brothel, with whom he would have a lasting relationship. While en route to Cuba, Crane's ship sank off the coast of Florida, leaving him adrift for several days in a dinghy. His ordeal was later described in "The Open Boat". During the final years of his life, he covered conflicts in Greece and lived in England with Cora, where he befriended writers such as Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells. Plagued by financial difficulties and ill health, Crane died of tuberculosis in a Black Forest sanatorium at the age of 28.
At the time of his death, Crane had become an important figure in American literature. He was nearly forgotten, however, until two decades later when critics revived interest in his life and work. Stylistically, Crane's writing is characterized by vivid intensity, distinctive dialects, and irony. Common themes involve fear, spiritual crises and social isolation. Although recognized primarily for The Red Badge of Courage, which has become an American classic, Crane is also known for short stories such as "The Open Boat", "The Blue Hotel", "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky", and The Monster. His writing made a deep impression on 20th century writers, most prominent among them Ernest Hemingway, and is thought to have inspired the Modernists.