Stephen Crane's the Red Badge of Courage


A major contribution to both the American canon and the literature of war, Stephen Crane's classic novel presents an indelible vision of armed conflict as witnessed by a young soldier. A stylistic achievement marked by its realistic portrayal of the brutality of battle, The Red Badge of Courage questions the cost of war in the face of individual human choice, while offering a penetrating look into the life and mind of a soldier. Esteemed scholar Harold Bloom introduces a new edition of full-length critical essays...

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A major contribution to both the American canon and the literature of war, Stephen Crane's classic novel presents an indelible vision of armed conflict as witnessed by a young soldier. A stylistic achievement marked by its realistic portrayal of the brutality of battle, The Red Badge of Courage questions the cost of war in the face of individual human choice, while offering a penetrating look into the life and mind of a soldier. Esteemed scholar Harold Bloom introduces a new edition of full-length critical essays discussing this enduring work.

Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations, a series of more than 100 volumes, presents the best current criticism on the most widely read and studied poems, novels, and dramas of the Western world, from Oedipus Rex and The Iliad to such modern and contemporary works as William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Don DeLillo's White Noise. Each volume opens with an introductory essay and editor's note by Harold Bloom and includes a bibliography, a chronology of the writer's life and works, and notes on the contributors. Taken together, Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations provides a comprehensive critical guide to the most vital and influential works of the Western literary tradition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791093672
  • Publisher: Blooms Literary Criticism
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Series: Bloom's Guides
  • Pages: 120
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.


"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Editor's Note vii

Introduction Harold Bloom 1

Stephen Crane: The Hero as Victim Harold Beaver 7

Henry Fleming's Heroics in The Red Badge of Courage: A Satiric Search for a "Kinder, Gentler" Heroism Mary Neff Shaw 17

Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage: Henry Fleming's Courage in Its Contexts Philip D. Beidler 29

Reading "Race" and "Gender" in Crane's The Red Badge of Courage Verner D. Mitchell 47

The Progress of Henry Fleming: Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage Max Westbrook 57

The Red Badge of Courage under British Spotlights Again Benjamin F. Fisher 71

The Red Badge of Class: Stephen Crane and the Industrial Army Andrew Lawson 81

"Heroes Had No Shame in Their Lives": Manhood, Heroics, and Compassion in The Red Badge of Courage and "A Mystery of Heroism" Michael Schaefer 99

Private Fleming's "Well-Meaning Cow": The Implications of Crane's Literary Style Perry Lentz 109

On Whose Responsibility? The Historical and Literary Underpinnings of The Red Badge of Courage Roy Morris Jr. 131

Chronology 145

Contributors 147

Bibliography 149

Acknowledgments 153

Index 155

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2004

    A Reader's Review of The Red Badge of Courage

    The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, is a story about a young boy who is a new recruit in the Union Army during the Civil War. Being new to the art of the war, he is inexperienced and confused about the effects of war. He envisions himself to be a great hero in his mind, able to fight off the enemy all by himself. Towards the end of the story, after the fighting, he sees things in a different light; he realizes that he is not a one-man army and that war is not always about heroics. I enjoyed The Red Badge of Courage for a variety of reasons. I liked the way that Stephen Crane keeps the main characters name secret and only referred to him as ¿the youth¿. This gives the main character a sense of innocence throughout the story because he is young and does not know the terrors of war that await him. Crane does this with all the characters in the story. He never gives them specific names, only implied ones, and refers to them in different ways, such as ¿the loud soldier¿ or ¿the tall soldier¿. This also gives the novel a sense of mystery because you can only tell a bit of the characters¿ personalities just by their given names. Another reason I enjoyed this book was the intricate detail Stephen Crane put into the battle fields and marching lines of wounded men. It gives you a sense of what it really looked like during the battles. This made the book slightly morbid, but I believe the Civil War was a morbid time, so I feel that this makes the novel all the more better. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history or adventure. The Red Badge of Courage satisfies the historians desire for more knowledge on the Civil War from the perspective of a soldier. The reader who enjoys adventures will also be interested in this novel because the Civil War was a very dangerous and adventurous time. Both readers I¿m sure will find satisfaction in their own interests.

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